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CNUF's 53rd year a hit


The instruments and costumes are packed away, as Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival (CNUF) wrapped up another festival, Aug. 3 to 5.
President Kayla Gillis was pleased with the weekend, noting Saturday attendance and camping was up from last year.
“The bands this year were excellent, all the dance groups were happy. Lots of comments on the entertainment calibre this year,” she said.
The festival is not only a celebration of Ukrainian culture, Gillis said, it attracts visitors from as far away as Australia and Europe, along with North America.
With a solid core of great entertainment and stellar dance performances, she said, CNUF has added a few events to encourage visitors to participate.
New this year was the Best Baba or Gido contest, where children wrote about their grandparents, garnering over a dozen charming stories, which will be repeated next year.
The Best Borscht competition was so popular last year, Gillis said, organizers brought it back this year with several tasty entries.
A past activity of the festival, an old time auction returned this year, with great success.
“Quite a few years ago, they used to do an auction sale, so we’ve brought it back,” she explained, noting there were almost 30 auction items ranging from Ukrainian heirlooms, to a donated flooring package, as well as coveted food baskets.
“It’s nice to bring something back that hasn’t been for a few years.”
CNUF touches a lot of bases, in terms of weekend fun, Gillis said, from the talent competition and cultural demonstrations, to the painting and food workshops, plus many children’s events.
Countless volunteers brought the culture alive with re-enactments in every building of the Ukrainian heritage village, while next door, volunteers at the Cossack camp were busy tending a fire, sharing samples of delicious bits of food and engaging visitors.
Canada’s National Riding and Dancing Cossacks and Company were once again a feature at the festival, with local riders thrilling crowds with their horsemanship, as dancers told a story on stage.
Headliner Iryna Fedyshyn closed the weekend Sunday night with a lively show that had the crowd dancing and singing along.
The hospitality and great entertainment has helped sustain attendance, Gillis said, adding budget cuts and steady ticket sales will help to trim the $126,023 deficit from 2017.
Throughout the weekend, Gillis visited various sites and activities, as she enjoys watching the responses from visitors.
“Everybody was having a good time, and you can really tell,” she said, noting the kolymenka at the Saturday night zabava was 35 minutes long.
“Everybody was having a wonderful time.”
While the final number are not in, Gillis credited the numerous volunteers and sponsors for making the 53th year a good one.
“Last night we even had a pop up polka party along with the zabava. A band called the Polka Hondas got together and donated their time to help keep the festival striving,” she said.

M. A. Nyquist