Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival goes virtual this Saturday

In a normal year Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival would be kicking off on the Friday night before August long weekend, but 2020 has been anything but normal, forcing this year’s organizing committee to think outside the box. This year’s festival, which is always held south of Dauphin, Manitoba, would be celebrating its 55th anniversary but thanks to Covid-19 organizers had to cancel Canada’s largest Ukrainian heritage celebration and host the milestone birthday in 2021. Rather than have nothing this year, organizers decided to host a virtual party Saturday evening on the festival Facebook page.

“It’s not our typical festival but we wanted to make sure we gave our patrons and everybody else out there who follows us a festival,” stated Kayla Gillis, President of Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival.

The Saturday night show will kick off with an opening ceremony of sorts that includes an introduction of the festival board followed by an emcee who will be hosting this year’s event. Gillis says the board asked this year’s performers to send them either a live video or a previous recording of them performing their dances.

“We’re going to be able to showcase all the entertainers and the bands that were supposed to be at the hill August long weekend,” noted Gillis.

The festival is held on the north edge of Riding Mountain National Park about 10 minutes south of the City of Dauphin. Among the groups performing this year included Canada’s National Riding and Dancing Cossacks and Company, Zirka Dance Ensemble of Dauphin, Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Winnipeg, and Regina’s Poltava Dance Ensemble.

“We are Canada’s longest running Ukrainian Festival in Canada,” smiled Gillis. “55 years is huge, so unfortunately we can’t all celebrate together but this is the best way we can do it and next year it’s going to be a bigger and better festival.”

The virtual festival will kick off at 7 p.m. on Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival Facebook page on Saturday, August 1st and is expected to run for two hours. Gillis encourages all those who are watching to post a picture on the CNUF page of how they’re celebrating their Ukrainian heritage during the virtual celebration.

CLICK HERE for our entire interview.


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