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: https://www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com/2013/09/17/414-fusion-food- at-korean-ukrainian-festivals/). For Emmanuel's video: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=QbRWJ9MlMXI&feature=em-upload_owner