Summer ‘Slavic Fest’ delights hundreds with song, dance, and food

Discover why you didn’t have to speak Russian to enjoy this fair in Lents Park …

As best could be interpreted, this is the Slavic Festival’s Presentation of Pride of Slavic Peoples.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Having traveled internationally wasn’t necessary to enjoy the best in Slavic culture this summer – when a Slavic Festival came to outer East Portland in Lents Park.

At the gazebo stage, continuous presentations of dance numbers, musical presentations, martial arts demonstrations, and even public officials, entertained the hundreds of people who gathered for the day-long event.

These men demonstrate battle skills, Slavic style, as Knights of Vladimir: Knights of the Victorious.

Dressed in traditional Russian costumes, dancers Alina, Ereina, Lina, and Ogla stand with the event’s organizer, Galina Nekrasova.

Around the perimeter of the park, vendors and organizations set up booths to offer information from businesses, community groups, and nonprofit organizations.

“This is our fifth annual festival,” grinned organizer Galina Nekrasova, President of the Oregon chapter of the Association Slavic Immigrants.

“Holding this festival is important, because we want to be together,” Nekrasova confided to East Portland News. “We want to be with our community, and involved in our community. When we come together, we have friendship with everyone.”

On-stage hostess and performer Rachael Lekherzak sings a Russian song – about a national Russian folk musical instrument – while being accompanied by Valery Poimenov on accordion.

MCs Rachael Lekherzak, Edward Anishchenko of Premiere Northwest Homes, and radio personality Irina Briksa from Russian Radio 7, keep the entertainment program proceeding smoothly.

The festival is intended for people of all ethnicities, Nekrasova added.

“That is why we invite everyone to come, including people from the surrounding neighborhoods, and across Portland,” Nekrasova said. “We have fun, lots of games, good food, and everything.”

Pavel Aspidov says he’s cooking plov, a savory dish made with rice, carrots, onions, and cubed leg of lamb – seasoned with peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds.

Woodland Park Neighborhood Association Chair Alicia Reese stands behind East Portland Neighborhood Office Director Richard Bixby, as they both greet festival-goers.

Between the musical acts, East Portland Neighborhood Office Director Richard Bixby was invited to the stage, along with Woodland Park Neighborhood Association Chair Alicia Reese.

“We welcome you here to Lents Park, and the outer East Portland area,” Bixby proclaimed. “And, we acknowledge you, Galena, for bringing this event here to Lents Park. We encourage all of you to follow her lead, and get involved in your community, to help make it a better place.”

Hundreds gather at the 2013 Slavic Festival for a fun, and cultural, day in the park.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz makes an appeal for civic involvement and volunteerism.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz was also brought to the stage. “I am an immigrant. I came here from England when I was 21. And now I’m elected to serve you, on your City Council. That happened because I got involved in my community.

“In Portland one of the things we do is that we volunteer,” Fritz continued. “The great thing about volunteering is you don’t have to speak the same language. You can plant a tree, or pick up litter – it doesn’t make any difference what language you speak.”

Indeed, people of all nationalities gathered at this festival, dedicated to community and harmony.

his performing duo, Sister Valinkins, sing songs about their former home, Belarus.

East Portland Action Plan advocate Lore Wintergreen attracts visitors with the international symbol of friendship: TWIZZLERS® licorice candy.

The festival was funded, in part, by a grant from East Portland Action Plan – and the Woodland Park Neighborhood Association donated their National Night Out park use for the festival.

> On our Front Page: Radio host Irina Briksa of Russian Radio 7 models a Ukrainian costume, as she stands near the exhibitors’ booths at the Slavic Festival.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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