Energetic, fast-paced musicians, singers and dancers entertained hundreds at the Ukrainian Homestead's Ukrainian Song & Dance Festival in Lehighton this past weekend.
Concluding a week of Dance Camp where, for five days, 88 children and young adults learned a bevy of traditional Ukrainian songs and dances to perform this weekend at the 18th annual Ukrainian Folk Festival commemorating the 19th anniversary of Ukrainian independence on August 24, 1991.
The Festival featured performances by the Kashtan Ukrainian Dance Ensemble from Cleveland, Ohio, Ukrainian violinist Inessa Tymochko-Dekjalo, the Dzvin Ukrainian Male Choir from Philadelphia, and a perennial local favorite, the Kazka Ukrainian Folk Ensemble from Pottsville, Schuylkill County. On the Festival grounds were demonstrations of embroidery, gerdany (bead-weaving), pysanky (Ukrainian Easter egg decorating) and traditional Ukrainian ritual bread. This year's special feature was a Ukrainian Cossack encampment.
At the Ukrainian Cossack encampment Andrey Mudragel and Yuri Drukariv spoke about the life of the Cossacks and demonstrated the shamshir-a curved Persian sword-which they used to slice through up to seven water bottles in a single swipe.
Mudragel explained that the Cossacks began as knights in 13th century Ukraine, as they were given land in exchange for military service. Over time, they traveled throughout Europe as mercenaries.
A unique treat was the Fralinger String Band, the winners of the Mummers parade for the past eight years. With their high energy music, and dressed in a variety of elaborate costumes from their past Mummers Parade performances, they looked like the Village People-only more so. Their 2011 performance will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ukrainian independence.