PHOTOS: Horsham's Ukrainian Folk Festival Celebrates Ukrainian Independence Amid War With Russia
By John Worthington | August 28, 2023
HORSHAM — Thousands got a glimpse into Ukraine’s rich culture Sunday afternoon as the 2023 Ukrainian Folk Festival entertained with song, dance, food and arts.
Held at the Ukrainian American Sport Center, the festival celebrated the 32nd anniversary of Ukraine’s independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Youth dance troupes dazzled attendees with performances of Ukrainian folk dances, including the HOPAK and the Kolomiyka, while food vendors served a number of ethnic foods, including varenyky, holubtsi, and borscht.
The vendor’s grove also featured a colorful selection of Ukrainian consumer goods, including embroidered shirts, biblical paintings and pysankas (intricately-decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs), as well as displays from several Ukrainian organizations and charities.
Borscht (sour soup made with beets) and kulish (millet pooridge) are cooked over an open fire. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
Vyskyvankas, Ukrainian embroidered shirts, are sold. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
Ukrainian biblical paintings are sold. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
Attendees peruse Ukrainian goods on offer in the vendor’s grove. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
The celebration comes 18 months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Leading up to the dance performances, numerous speakers took to the main stage to send a message of hope and solidarity.
Iryna Mazur, honorary consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia, spoke on behalf of Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States. She emphasized the unity of Ukraine and the United States, touting the countries’ shared values. She expressed immense gratitude to the United States for its ongoing military and humanitarian support.
“We celebrate with great pain and sorrow in our hearts,” said Mazur. “This war has affected every Ukrainian family. Every one of us has brothers, sisters, relatives and friends who stay in bombed and ruined cities, who stay right now in trenches. Ukrainians don’t have the luxury to grieve. We must stay strong.”
Eleven-year-old Varvara Ostapovych, a refugee from Ukraine, sang the national anthem. Her father is a Ukrainian soldier fighting in the war.
Representatives for Pennsylvania’s senators also spoke, underscoring a firm commitment to Ukraine’s defense.
“Ukrainian independence and culture has never been more in need of celebrating,” said Andrew Doris, National Security Fellow for Sen. Bob Casey. “Your strength, resilience and courage are inspiring.”
Following the speeches, the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble performed Vesnianka, a spring song, sharing the message that Ukraine will rebuild after the war, just as spring blossoms after a cold winter.
Iryna Mazur, Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia, emphasizes the unity between the United States and Ukraine. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
The Ukrainian national anthem is performed by a Ukrainian refugee, whose father is currently serving in the Ukrainian military. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
The Voloshy Ukrainian Dance Ensemble performs HOPAK, a folk dance. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
A youth dance troupe performs the Kolomiyka (polka). (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
Crimean Tatars perform a folk dance. (John Worthington – MediaNews Group)
Proceeds from the festival benefit the Humanitarian Relief of Victims of War in Ukraine.