Monday, September 9, 2013

Baltimore Ukrainian Festival and Your Monday Fortune Cookie


SNARKY RESPONSE: If you want proof, ask OnStar.

There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

The OnStar comment may seem odd, but believe me, Joe and I have traveled many a winding road because OnStar thought it was the most direct route. We've been on backwoods roads so deep in the wilderness that I would have sworn I heard banjo's playing.

Well, OnStar did it again this last Saturday to get us to the Baltimore Ukrainian Festival and though it took us on a route we had not anticipated, it did get us there in good time. So as the Bard says, all's well that ends well.

The Baltimore Ukrainian Festival is held in Patterson Park in Baltimore, not far from the Inner Harbor. Actually on the other side of Little Italy. This was their 38th year and going strong. The festival is set up around the monument to Poland with food, drink, novelties, and live entertainment.

Saturday in Baltimore was lovely. As we drove through Baltimore to the festival, it rapidly became apparent that it was a very busy day in Baltimore. There was a game at the stadium, and a sudden encounter with people costumed like super heroes revealed that the Baltimore Comic Con was at the Inner Harbor. Then passing through the neighborhood to get to the Ukrainian Festival, we discovered there was a small Polish Festival being held at a church several blocks from the park. Determined to avail ourselves of both events, we parked in a midway area and headed in. 

The Baltimore Ukrainian Festival features booths from four different Ukrainian churches offering Ukrainian foods, a Ukranian Beer Garden where you could enjoy Ukrainian beers, vodka, and honey liquor and vendors with lovely Ukranian decorated eggs and embroidered shirts. Cabbage rolls and pierogi are not photogenic, but they were delicious. I guarantee it.

This was a vegetarian offering of spaetzle, mushrooms, and cabbage. And the beers were very refreshing.

The cabbage rolls and pierogi differed from church booth to church booth in subtle ways, but all were delicious.

Sitting on our blanket in the shade of a tree, Joe and I enjoyed watching a wonderful dancing group performing traditional Ukrainian dances, a talented violinist playing Ukrainian music, and a local Ukrainian acapella group. The temperature was perfect and a steady breeze kept us all comfortable. I admit I did feel for the performers, but honestly, it's been hotter in past years, and none of them were noticeably drooping.


The Cossack dances are always exciting to watch. The young men leaping about and kicking from squats were impressive. My knees ached just watching them jump up and down. And there was one dance where they whirled the girls in the air. Fun!

The Polish Festival was being held at a nearby church and included entertainment, vendors, historical displays and, of course, food. This was a new event for us and, we loved the smaller venue. Being a one church event, it felt cozier and the food came right out of the kitchen to your plate. Yum!

There's something so delightfully rich about enjoying an event steeped in tradition. Hearing people speaking their native languages and sharing food and stories about their history with welcome strangers. These two cultures are my husband's heritage, and I love that he enjoys sharing it with me. It reminds me how marvelously diverse our country is, the world is, and how much we need to remember and celebrate that diversity with joy and love.

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