422. Ukrainian Parade & Festival 2013

 Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant.Copyright ©2013 Emmanuel Gallant.

 Emmanuel Gallant writes:
 I am hesitating between the Polish festival, where most of my friends have
 planned to go, and the Ukrainian one. After reading a few comments about
 last year’s experiences and listening to Ruth’s recommendations, I decide to
 spend my Saturday with the Ukrainians.

 I get off at Jane subway station around 11am. Right beside the station I can
 see the main stage. It is quite a big one, with a big screen magnifying the
 performance on stage. I heard that the Ukrainian festival is one of the most
 important in Toronto. I assume there will be some amazing performances in a
 few hours. I progress slowly on Bloor eastward. Stalls are displayed all
 along. More people are arriving, and long line ups are already being formed
 to taste the famous Ukrainian dish perogies. 

 A lot of blue and yellow flags and inflated balloons are hanging on top of
 the poles on the street. Canadian flags haven’t been forgotten either. All
 those colours create a really festive atmosphere. I spend several minutes walking
 among the exhibitors, attracted to the various Ukrainian art and crafts, and
 appreciating the blue and yellow caps, scarves and t-shirts. Then, I hear
 the drums and bands of the parade. I get as close as possible. My camera is ready. 
 Two children holding a big banner “Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian
 Festival” are proudly leading the parade. They are followed by military 
 veterans and a band. A series of original vintage cars follow, Ukrainian
 dancers wearing typical “hustuls” costumes, Ukrainian-Torontonian sport
 groups, political parties, the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, big puppets, and
 others. I take a video. The links are at the end of this blog.

 The parade lasts at least one hour. My eyes full of yellow and blue, I head
 back to the main stage to attend the show that should start soon. I get there
 on time for the opening ceremony. A group of officials is on stage, being
 thanked for their efforts in the making of this festival. Kathleen Wynne, 
 the Premier of Ontario, counts among them. It is the 17th annual festival
 and North America's largest Ukrainian street festival. 
Finally, the shows start with a series of traditional Ukrainian dances. 
Performers are  obviously well-prepared. Their synchronization is good, 
their costumes are very well done. My photographer friend David Jeng 
joins me after half an hour. Observing him shooting from all possible angles 
and waiting for “the right moment” gives me some good ideas to improve
my pictures. Different  artists from all of North America perform, mixing 
various styles of Ukrainian  dances. It is the first time I see them live. 
It is very dynamic and  entertaining.

 Finally, David and I leave the festival but not before having our own
 pictures taken with the performers backstage. This is a nice way to feel
 completely immersed in the event.
 I finally end the day with my friends at the Polish festival on
Roncesvalles. As expected, this festival is definitely simpler and
smaller, mixed with some Peruvian music and presenting fewer 
Polish specialties than the variety at the Ukrainian event. At least,
Polish beer hasn't been forgotten. There is apparently enough to satisfy 
most of us visitors.

Note: (For one version of perogies at the Ukrainian Festival, see post: 
at-korean-ukrainian-festivals/). For Emmanuel's video: http://www.youtube.com/

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