This year’s Ukraine-Kyiv pavilion will double as a birthday party for Ukraine’s national bard.
The Folklorama pavilion celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, a Ukrainian poet, writer, artist and political figure, from Aug. 3 to 9 at Garden City Collegiate (711 Jefferson Ave.).
"He’s credited (creating) with the modern Ukrainian language and his poetry has been translated across the globe, and his artwork has been very well-recognized and appreciated in the art world," said Breanne Schaubroeck, Ukraine-Kyiv’s adult ambassador.
The Ukraine-Kyiv celebration will feature a multitude of traditional Ukrainian musicians and dancers, so many that Schaubroeck said you’re guaranteed a different show every night at the pavilion. Of course, the pavilion will also serve up culinary specialties like perogies, cabbage rolls, borscht and kielbasa.
"You can’t have a pavilion without kielbasa," Schaubroeck said. "Our pavilion also features kasha, which is basically boiled buckwheat. It’s delicious. I eat it with sour cream, but you can have it plain. It’s just another Ukrainian carb that we all love, but it gives us fuel for dancing."
Also providing fuel for the party are two specialty beverages, the Kalyna Malyna, a cranberry cocktail Schaubroeck describes as a "Ukrainian Cosmo", and the Hutzul Hammer, which contains vodka, Sambuca and orange juice.
Schaubroeck, 27, said she’s been attending the Ukraine-Kyiv pavilion ever since she can remember, but started volunteering at it at around age 15.
"I started serving the VIP guests which was really great because it taught me how to interact with dignitaries and showed me how to treat them with respect but also make them feel welcome, making sure they felt like they were in our homes," Schaubroeck said.
"My whole family is involved in Folklorama. It’s something that defines summer for me. It defines my vacation schedule. Someone will say ‘Let’s go to the cabin.’ No, sorry, its Folklorama week. My life shuts down for two weeks because I’m at the pavilion. It’s an extreme source of pride for our community."
For Orycia Karpa, the pavilion’s youth ambassador, the story is much the same. The 17-year-old has been attending pavilion her whole life, is active in her Ukrainian parish and dances with Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.
Karpa said celebrating her Ukrainian culture is even more important this year, with the ongoing violence and political turmoil in Ukraine.
"It (the situation in Ukraine) reminds us of how lucky we are to be in Canada. We’re sending our love and support by continuing our traditions here," Karpa said.