OTTAWA – The third annual Capital Ukrainian Festival brought another fantastic weekend of Ukrainian food, music, dancing and culture to the nation’s capital. With an attendance of over 25,000, including 6,000 tourists from cities and towns from all over Canada, the United States and Ukraine, the celebration of all things Ukrainian was in the air on Friday through Sunday, July 21-23.
There were several highlights delighting the 2017 festival’s visitors. The programming was spectacular and dynamic with no breaks in performance on the main Ukrainian Credit Union stage. The audience was wowed by Kyiv-based DakhaBrakha’s unique sound, and visitors were entertained by the over 500 performers that took the stage over the course of the weekend.
Music and dance ranged from electrified strings to folk flair; the festival had something for everyone. To top the night off on Saturday, Zirka, Canada’s favorite “zabava” band, hosted the largest and best Ukrainian dance party that Ottawa has ever seen.
In the Village Voices tent, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd as the 100th birthday of Maria Reshitnyk was celebrated in a touching ceremony to honor her life and extensive contributions to the Ukrainian community and people in need.
The executive chef of Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello and former chef of the prime minister’s residence, Tim Wasylko, also led two incredible cooking demonstrations, showing the crowd how to make Ukrainian “perogies” (as they are called here) and borshch, and shared cultural stories centered on core foods.
Amid a rainy and cloudy summer, the weather celebrated as well, with hot sunny days on Friday and Saturday, and the rain holding off until the end of the festival day on Sunday.
The food was high-quality, traditional Ukrainian cuisine. The perogies (varenyky), which Ukrainians are known for, were in high demand. Over 45,000 were eaten over the weekend. Other favorite menu items were the award-winning sausages from Halenda’s Meats, and the 250 liters of homemade borshch prepared fresh throughout the festival dates.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th, the festival collaborated with Ottawa 2017. Artists from across Canada performed at Inspiration Village as a kick off to the festival. On opening night, Ottawa 2017 surprised visitors as Ignite 150 brought its “enlightenment kit” on site, adding a glowing ambiance enjoyed by all.
This sensational weekend would not have been possible without the help of over 200 volunteers, and festival organizers thanked them for their contributions.