by Ari Perlin-Bain
Summer may be coming to a close but the season of street festivals isn’t over just yet.
This weekend marks the 18th annual Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and ending Sunday evening.
Bloor Street West will be closed from Runnymede to Jane Street to make way for various dance performances, food vendors, and more as an estimated 600 000 people will make their way to the festival over the next three days.
Political unrest and violence in Ukraine between the government and Russian-backed rebel forces have plagued the country in the last year.
— Free Ukraine (@Ukrainolution) September 12, 2014
— Special Reports (@specialreports) September 12, 2014
The unrest seems to be weighing on many in Toronto’s Ukrainian community.
Though to add more awareness of the situation, the festival’s organizers are introducing a new exhibit, “A Journey Through Maidan”.
It will allow attendees to get a first-hand experience of what is happening in the Maidan, or Independence Square, located in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
The festival’s Executive Director, Sonia Holiad, hopes it will further influence this part of the Ukrainian culture on attendees.
“I think Ukrainians are worried about what’s going on,” Holiad said. “It’s on everyone’s minds but the exhibit will be a great way to reinforce the connection to their culture and allow the people who haven’t been to the Maidan a way of experiencing what it’s like.”
Over the weekend, the festival will also create more revenue for businesses in the area.
Furniture store Windergarden is offering special deals to customers all weekend in honour of the festival.
“We have blue and yellow patio umbrellas on sale resembling the colours of the Ukrainian flag and we’re looking forward to a lot of people coming by,” said owner Rose Marie Harasymowycz. “I’ve attended the festival in the past myself; it’s a great event that they put on so I’m very excited to be involved this year.”