By Julie Caldwell
This Friday, May 24th, marks the fifth annual Russian Festival kicks off at the Church of the Nativity Community Center located at 109 German Street.
This year’s festival will include homemade Russian food, that includes Borscht, Russian Mushrooms, Vareniki, Chicken Kiev, Kotlety (Russian Hamburgers), Kolbasa, Hot Dogs for Kids. Along with a Vodka Ice Bar, a Russian Tea Room and folk music featuring the best of Russian music.
Friday will be a MEATLESS menu due to the religious fasting requirements. Lake Erie Perch will be featured on Friday and the famous Russian burgers and kielbasa on Saturday and Sunday
The 3 day event was originally established in 2009 as a fundraiser to help pay off the mortgage for the expansion to their Community Center, where the church houses a food pantry for those in need.
Russian Old Believer immigrants who had come to the United States during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century originally chartered the Church of the Nativity of Christ in 1916.
Upon arriving in America, many of these Old Believer immigrants chose to move to Erie, where work on the ore and pulp docks was available. By 1916, scores of Old Believer families were located in the area, and the community’s leaders decided to build a church.
Over the past century, the parish has evolved dramatically while still keeping hold of the Old Rite of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Among many other performers, world-renowned Barynya Russian Dance Ensemble will be headlining this year’s event. Established in the year 1991 in New York City, Barynya is a world-renowned group that enjoys exalting stature as the premier Russian folk ensemble outside of Russia. In addition, Dynasty DJ Services will also be performing over the course of the festival.
Barynya presents Russian, Cossack, Ukrainian, Jewish and Gypsy Roma traditional dancing, music, songs, and virtuoso performances on instruments including the balalaika, garmoshka, balalaika contrabass, bayan, Gypsy guitars, domra, and violin.
Barynya has been invited to perform at some of the most prestigious cultural venues in the United States, including Carnegie Hall in New York, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institute of America in Washington D.C., the United Nations in New York, and the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.
Globally recognized, Barynya has performed for dignitaries, politicians, celebrities and around the world.
The group performed at the black-tie Gala after President George H.W. Bush presented the Liberty Medal to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 2008. Over one thousand dignified guests including the likes of Tom Brokaw, Dikembe Mutumbo and Van Cliburn attended the prestigious event.
Members of the ensemble have been invited to perform at many film premiers and celebrity parties, including the official post-Grammy Award parties in New York and for private events hosted by Barbara Walters, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and Tommy Hilfiger.