St. Anne festival to return

The event is being revived after a four-year absence.

By Elise Mckeown Skolnick

AUSTINTOWN — St. Anne Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church Parish is alive and well — and they want the community to know.

Though an annual festival was part of the St. Anne School’s activities, when the school closed four years ago, it effectively shut down the festival, as well.

“Since they closed the school, it seems that this parish is dead, but it’s not,” said the Rev. Peter Tomas, pastor of St. Anne’s. “And the Ukrainians are still around in a big number. But we don’t have any activities since the school was closed, so we wanted to let the community know that we’re still alive and show them our traditions.”

To do that, they will hold a Ukrainian festival Sunday. The event will run from noon to 8 p.m. at the church at Raccoon and Kirk roads. Admission is free.

St. Anne’s own dancers, a group of church members age 10 to 22, will be part of the festivities. Called St. Anne’s Holy Trinity Ukrainian Dancers, they will perform twice, at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

The Jack Vasko Orchestra will play polkas and other Ukrainian music. Traditional foods, such as pirogi, kielbasi with sauerkraut, borscht, holupki, haluski and imported Ukrainian beer will be available for purchase. Ukrainian arts and crafts will be offered as well. Also included in the day are a demonstration of Ukrainian egg-making, a basket raffle and a 50/50 raffle.

The event was originally planned for July, but rather than compete with Youngstown State University’s international festival, they opted for a later date, Father Tomas said.

“And then we decided ‘OK, it’s probably better,’” Father Tomas said. “Because when it gets a little bit cooler, people like our heavy Ukrainian food better. In hot summer, not many people come and buy kielbasi and haluski. So it’s better this way.”

Money earned from the event is to be used for parish operating costs.

“After they closed the school, what happened,” Father Tomas explained, “is we have an absolutely empty and very huge building, and the utilities are the same. So in the near future we’re probably going to have to figure out something different, how to manage this, but right now [the festival] is going to help.”

Father Tomas said there are approximately 400 Ukrainian families in Austintown and Youngstown. He plans for the festival to be an annual event.

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