TROY — When the annual Festival of Nations opens this year on Aug. 19, the spotlight will be on Ukraine.
The eastern European nation will be celebrated through traditional song and dance, food, art and more. Ukraine was chosen as this year’s featured country for its rich culture, Delegations Chairperson Abigail Ngoza-Jordan said.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held on the levee in Troy from 2-8 p.m. Aug. 19.
“We are so excited about our featured country this year,” Ngoza-Jordan said.
The event will kick off with the playing of the Ukrainian national anthem and the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio will be at the festival to share their culture with visitors. Many will be wearing traditional Ukrainian costumes and their booth will include displays like intricately hand-painted Easter eggs.
“There will be food, there will be clothing, there will be artifacts, music and all that represents the culture of Ukraine,” she said.
The festival will also feature The Tamburitzans, a dance group from Pittsburgh, performing traditional Ukrainian dances, Ngoza-Jordan said. Founded in 1937, it is the longest-running live stage show in the country.
The dancers and musicians, all students from Pittsburgh area universities, are committed to promoting and preserving European culture and traditions. They recently appeared at the World A’Fair international festival in Dayton.
The Festival of Nations will also highlight about 20 other countries, including Puerto Rico, Egypt, Japan, Ireland, India and more. Festival organizers try to ensure that cultures from each of the continents are represented, Ngoza-Jordan said.
Each country will have a booth at the festival, manned by area residents who are ready to share their cultures with festival-goers.
“It’s like taking a trip around the world — on the levee,” she added.
Ngoza-Jordan, who will be representing South Africa at the festival, said the festival is a wonderful opportunity for cultural exchange.
She hopes that visitors to the festival will realize that “we are more alike than different.”
“I think, with everything that’s going on around the world, we should just celebrate diversity and enjoy one another,” Ngoza-Jordan said. “The great thing about Troy is that there are all these nationalities in a small little town. I think that’s really amazing. It’s very rich.”
Visitors of all ages can check out the interactive booths and displays, food, dance, music, story-telling and arts and crafts. There will also be games, face-painting and other activities for children. An open-air stage will feature dancers, musicians, and others.
“It’s very educational and informative,” Ngoza-Jordan said, noting that each delegation is required to dedicate at least half of its booth to education.
The dancing and food is always a highlight of the event each year, she added.
The festival, now in its 24th year, was originally spearheaded by Ruth Jenkins, wife of then-Mayor Peter Jenkins, and a group of other area residents. The festival is funded by donations including support from the Troy Foundation, city of Troy, and Troy Area Chamber of Commerce.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.