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IMMIGRANT ROOTS RUN DEEP AT UKRAINIAN HERITAGE FESTIVAL

Author: Travel Alberta

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My son’s face is covered with ice cream. Or is that sour cream? Who can tell? He hasn’t stopped eating since this morning’s special pancake breakfast. His grandpa – my husband’s father – is onstage learning the steps to a traditional wedding dance. This has given my mother-in-law a major case of the giggles.

My in-laws arrived in Canada yesterday and are thrilled to be celebrating my ancestry at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village here in Alberta. We take the kids to this open-air living history museum every year. As it’s only a half hour east of Edmonton, we usually spend the morning exploring the village and then head to neighbouring Elk Island National Park to see the bison.

Ukrainian Day Celebrations

This visit, we’ll spend the entire day here enjoying the annual Ukrainian Day festivities, which heighten the whole cultural experience. We’ll take in the ever-popular concert featuring traditional and modern music. One of my favourite things to watch are the concert dance performances. Traditional Ukrainian dance is energetic and fast paced with lots of uplifted arms and twirling. The costumes are so colourful and the dancers seem to be having a really good time.

I think the in-laws will enjoy the local arts councils showcase and sale – perhaps they’ll find a nice souvenir to take home. Add in some terrific activities for children and a wagon ride and you’ve got a great family event.

Fabulous Food

And of course, no Ukrainian celebration is complete without food – and lots of it. After the pancake breakfast, most people – my family included – continue grazing throughout the day at the Food Festival. Local producers are invited to the village market to sell their hand-pinched perogies, borscht, cabbage rolls, pies, tortes and old-fashioned ice cream. Yum!

Judging from the smiles on my in-laws’ faces, you don’t need to have Ukrainian roots to enjoy Ukrainian Day at the village.

The Pioneer Spirit

To walk off all that delicious food, we took the in-laws on a tour of the village. This place is a tribute to the dedication of Ukrainian pioneers who helped settle east central Alberta. The costumed actors who role-play historical characters inside heritage buildings are so authentic it can feel like I’ve travelled back in time to the cozy kitchen of my baba (grandmother). The Ukrainian Village replicas allow you to experience first-hand the settlers’ living conditions and way of life.

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