Some want to see traditional Ukrainian dances. Others come to sample some traditional cuisine.

But more often than not, people attend the annual Ukrainian Festival at St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Church on
East Ridge Road to celebrate their Ukrainian heritage or to learn more about Monroe County's growing Ukrainian community.

The 33rd annual four-day festival started Thursday and drew more than 25,000 people, said festival chairman Eric Peterson. The event featured games and carnival rides, and it is expected to raise more than $50,000 for the church.

"We're all raising our kids to know our culture and our heritage," said Tamara Farias Kraus, 34, of Penfield. "It's important for our children to be part of the Ukrainian community — to not only speak the language at home but to be familiar with the community."

But more than anything, George Hanushevsky, 56, of
Irondequoit said he likes spending time with some fellow Ukrainians.

"This event brings all of the parishioners together for the common good and shows that we're proud of who we are," he said.

Church volunteers started making varenyk (potato and cheese dumplings) in May. By the time the festival started on Thursday, church members had made about 45,000 varenyk to sell, Peterson said.

And by the end of the weekend, they're all gone.

Walter Pavlovych, 38, of Hilton said he loves having the chance to teach his children about their heritage.

Oreshya Petryk, 22, of
Irondequoit twirled across the festival stage with several other dancers.

"Just sharing your culture with the community shows pride and respect of what we've learned over the years," said Petryk, who has been learning traditional Ukrainian dances since she was 6. She learned from her father and said she hopes to teach her own children someday.

"It's my religion, its my culture, it's my faith and heritage," Petryk said.
"It's my life."

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