‘Slavic Fest’ makes strong comeback in Hazelwood park

INCLUDES VIDEO VIGNETTE | As part of ‘Welcoming Week’, see how this now-traditional festival lit up Ventura Park with entertainment, culture, and great food …

Some of them dressed in the attire of their home country, eager crowds arrive in outer East Portland, ready to participate in the 2021 Slavic Festival in the Hazelwood neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After being shut out in 2020 from holding the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Slavic Festival returned on September 12 this year, as part of the City of Portland-sponsored “Welcoming Week” activities.

After being held in the then-new Gateway Discovery Park in 2019, this notable celebration set up in Ventura Park this year, with the goal of entertaining people of all ages while spotlighting the cultures of Eastern European and Eurasian countries.

Take a brief ‘tour’ of the 2021 Slavic Festival
watching this Video Vignette

“Because some people are still concerned about COVID-19, this year’s festival was hybrid – with folks able to attend in person, or, just watch the festivities live via the Slavic Community of NW Facebook page or YouTube channel,” pointed out returning organizer Timur Holove. But those attending virtually were unable to enjoy all the food!

Helping their community to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the goals of this year’s Slavic Festival, says organizer Timur Holove, who is also Board Chair of the Slavic Community Center of NW.

“Although we couldn’t hold it in 2020, this year the restrictions eased a little bit, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to present the festival again, right here in outer East Portland,” Holove told East Portland News.

“The pandemic has been tough for everyone, especially for those in our Slavic community; we’re very under-served and unrepresented here in the Portland area,” Holove asserted.

At this year’s Slavic Festival, providing information about COVID-19 is paramount.

Slavic Festival originator Galina Viktorovna Nekrasova, spends a moment with a family that’s performed at, and supported, the event since its inception, Anastasia Valynkina sister Katy Sirotkina, and father Valery Valynkin.

“When it came to helping our people understand COVID-19, it’s been really hard to get this information into the people’s heads and hands,” he said. “So, we’re using the festival as a platform to provide information – by inviting agencies, including the Multnomah County Health Department, the Clackamas County Health Department, and the Oregon Health Authority. They’re providing vaccines; and CareOregon and Humana are helping people find a ‘health safety net’.”

Global Foods cook Alex Vishnevskiy traditionally cooks meat that will eventually be part of a race pilaf dish.

Inasmuch as the Slavic Community Center of NW, Inc. is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Holove said that their volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide financial assistance for utility bills for those out of work due to COVID-19. As well, a special program allowed them to provide some 10,000 culturally-specific food boxes to members of their community who were in need.

“We took on a big load, helping hundreds of family members get through COVID-19, and it feels great to have helped all these Slavic families,” acknowledged Holove.

Co-MC, Katy Sirotkina describes, in both Russian and English, the traditional costumes being worn for the celebration and for special occasions.

Juliana and Pava lead the audience in traditional songs.

Festival creates understanding, community
“In addition to offering a culturally-specific event for people from Eastern European and Eurasian countries, this festival helps our many non-Slavic neighbors who come here, to learn more about our culture, our people, our traditions, and our food,” observed Holove.

“The more we learn about one another, the better we can work together to make Portland a better place to live,” Holove concluded.

To learn more about the Slavic Community Center of NW, Inc., CLICK HERE to see their official website.

>> On our Front Page: A member of the Evan de Maria Russian Dance group, dressed in her native attire, Katya Ponomareva, waits to go on stage during the 2021 Slavic Festival.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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