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Wochit, Virginia Butler
Did you know Rochester has the third largest Ukrainian population in the U.S.?
The finishing touches are in place for the upcoming St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Festival that takes place on the grounds of the Irondequoit church Aug. 15 to 18. The varenyky potato dumplings are prepared. This week, volunteers were arriving to make golubtsi, or cabbage rolls.
By the end of the week, more than 30,000 people will have celebrated Ukrainian culture at the festival with food, music, dance and arts and crafts at the 47th annual festival hosted by St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church. It’s all to introduce Ukrainian culture to the community while gathering with friends and family, said Daria Hanushevsky, a trustee of the church.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Hanushevsky 68, of Irondequoit.
With over 42,000 people of Ukrainian descent in the greater Rochester region, the area has one of the largest populations of Ukrainians in the United States, with cities Chicago and Sacramento topping the Rochester region, said the Rev. Philip Weiner, pastor of St. Josaphats. The greater Rochester region is home to the third largest Ukrainian community in the country, the pastor added.
A sovereign state in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is bordered by Russia to the east, northeast and south; Poland to the west; and Hungary, Moldova and Romania to the southwest. Rochester has a long history when it comes to Ukrainian immigrants.
The first wave came in the 1870s and 1880s from a village named Rohatyn, according to church records. Another wave came in the 1940s and 1950s as many Ukrainians were displaced and relocated to camps. A third wave arrived in America between 1960 and 1975 and the current wave of Ukrainian immigrants have been settling in America since the 1990s, Weiner explained. Some are workers in carpentry or landscaping who may be transients while others have chose to settle here.
Hanushevsky’s parents are from Ukraine and she moved to Rochester 41 years ago. Her son, Andrew Hanushevsky, 39, recently became the chair of the festival, a second generation carrying on tradition for the church event.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church grew and changed with the times, initially opening in 1909 on Remington Street before building on lower Hudson Avenue in Rochester in the 1920s. In 1964, the church outgrew its Hudson Avenue home and purchased its current site on East Ridge Road at Stanton Street. To raise funds to build a house of worship, the first Ukrainian Festival was launched in 1972, with the church’s Byzantine architecture completed in 1979.
The unique architecture is a striking feature along Ridge Road. The overall height of the church at 105 feet makes it one of the tallest Ukrainian churches in North America. There are five domes, with the largest in the center representing Jesus Christ. The four smaller domes symbolize the Gospel writers: Ss. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Inside the church, a stained glass window of St. Josaphat is 16 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The chandelier was custom-designed and weighs 3,000 pounds. There is capacity for 546 people
Dozens of volunteers help make the festival happen and it is the biggest fundraiser for the church, raising about $60,000 to $70,000 for the church annually, Hanushevsky said. The volunteers begin work on the annual event around January, with each festival being the culmination of almost eight months of work. Over 40,000 varenyky (pierogies) will be served at the event with the combination plate featuring a bit of everything being a top seller.
The festival kicks off Thursday night and runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday nights. On Saturday, the festival runs from 1 to 11 p.m. On Sunday it runs from 1 to 8 p.m.
Admission is free and there are scheduled dancers and singers throughout the four-day event, said church trustee Thomas Brilbeck. For the opening ceremonies Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the Kalyna Ukrainian Dancers will perform followed by live music from Vasyl Ravlyk from 7:45 to 10:45 p.m.
Arts and crafts are available for sale at the festival ranging from Ukrainian Easter eggs to embroidered blouses.
If you go
What: 47th annual St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Festival
Where: 940 East Ridge Road Irondequoit
When: The festival kicks off Thursday night and runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday nights. On Saturday, the festival runs from 1 to 11 p.m. On Sunday it runs from 1 to 8 p.m.
Cost: No admission charge
More information: RochesterUkrainianFestival.com
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