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Ukrainian Fest [was Dang, this is festival day!]

Ukrainian Fest [was Dang, this is festival day!]
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  • Ukrainian Fest [was Dang, this is festival day!]

    Post #1 - September 9th, 2006, 9:14 am
    Post #1 - September 9th, 2006, 9:14 am Post #1 - September 9th, 2006, 9:14 am
    I can't decide, should I take the kids to:

    Metromix wrote:Ukrainian Village Fest

    Neighborhood street fest features a beer garden, ethnic eats from Ukraine, raffle prizes, games, live Ukrainian music and performances by the Hromovytsia Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.


    http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/even ... 4137.event

    or

    Metromix wrote:41st Annual Von Steuben Parade

    Annual tribute to General Von Steuben's contribution to the U.S. military in 1777. The parade route continues north on Lincoln Avenue to Lawrence Avenue. Part of the annual German-American Festival.


    http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/even ... 0358.event

    or

    Metromix wrote:Festival de La Villita

    The annual fest, celebrating Mexican independence from Spanish rule, features food vendors, live music on two stages, arts and crafts, kids' entertainment, seniors' activities and more.


    http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/even ... 0835.event

    ?

    [Subject line changed to reflect where the thread went.]
    Last edited by Mike G on September 10th, 2006, 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #2 - September 9th, 2006, 10:37 am
    Post #2 - September 9th, 2006, 10:37 am Post #2 - September 9th, 2006, 10:37 am
    I love Chicago.
  • Post #3 - September 9th, 2006, 2:30 pm
    Post #3 - September 9th, 2006, 2:30 pm Post #3 - September 9th, 2006, 2:30 pm
    I was at the German-American Festival last night. I'll be heading back this evening. I've been going for several years and never had less than a stellar time there.

    I didn't eat there yesterday but probably will tonight. Items include bratwurst or thuringer plate with saurkraut and potato salad and a 'german-style meatloaf' sandwich.
  • Post #4 - September 9th, 2006, 10:10 pm
    Post #4 - September 9th, 2006, 10:10 pm Post #4 - September 9th, 2006, 10:10 pm
    Well, we've done the German fest before and when I presented the choices to the kids they actually were most interested in a Redmoon Theater-like performance thing about birds in Wicker Park that was part of the Around the Coyote fest--

    Image

    Note that the man in the red shirt has brought his parrot to see a show about birds. I am not kidding.

    Around the Coyote was kind of fun, in its Wicker Park kids-not-really-welcome way (even though Wicker Park is now overrun with hipster kid clothing stores and the like), but it left me feeling like I'd missed some fantastically cool vanishing ethnic experiences today. (I'd just been reading my 1983 Chicago Magazine guidebook, full of old German places in Roscoe Village which mostly closed two minutes after I moved here in the early 90s, which always makes me desperate to do whatever's left.) So when dinner rolled around, I grabbed one son and we headed to the Ukrainian fest.

    Image

    I like the German fest but all the food is catered by the same place in the burbs and there's no actual German spoken anywhere any more. I didn't know, frankly, if there'd be any actual Ukrainians at the Ukrainian fest, either, and the only surviving Ukrainian restaurant, Saks, was recently reported by Erik M. to be pretty dire, but it didn't take long to figure out that this is NOT a festival celebrating a way of life that's already extinct and just on show for the tourists.

    Image

    Middle aged guys in suit coats with drooping mustaches, young guys with sleek black hair and black T-shirts talking on their cell phones, packs of blonde young girls chattering away in Ukrainian-- this is a fest for the community, outsiders strictly optional.

    Image

    Little English was spoken at the food stands but I actually didn't have a hard time picking out things, partly thanks to a passable on-the-fly facility with Cyrillic picked up watching Soviet movies, and partly because so much of this food was familiar by name to me, things like pelmeny and varynyky (varenike) having been passed down in my family from the Mennonite side (the Mennonites, though mostly ethnically German, spent about a hundred years in Russia, where they picked up the hardy winter wheat which is the reason why the two main wheat-producing regions in the world are Kansas and the Ukraine). The first stand, sponsored by a Ukrainian Cultural Center, served me up this all-white plate:

    Image

    The bigger dumplings in the middle are potato pierogi, which were excellent; the smaller ones at top are pelmeny, basically meat dumplings, which had a rich and wonderful organ-meat flavor which I frankly didn't want to know too many details about; and the cabbage roll-looking things in front she called something like holubka, though that's a dance rather than a food, maybe it's a food too though. Anyway, they had chicken and rice inside and tasted like chicken soup, also quite good.

    Image
    Will Ferrell, in the costume of his cameo from the Borat movie.

    If you go, I highly recommend that stand, the Ukrainian Cultural one. All the stuff tasted homemade and really good, not as generic as the Polish equivalents often can be around town (indeed, would be at the fest, as you'll see.) That cabbage roll-like thing, holubka or whatever it was called, was miles above any similar one I've had in a Polish restaurant, and the pierogi and pelmeny were first-rate too.

    Anyway, there were three other stands. I skipped this one:

    Image

    Another small Ukrainian one had only one really interesting looking item, which it took two or three tries to finally learn was the second item on the list below, a "cheborek"-- in other words, yet another variant of our old friend the borek/byrek/bierock/boreg, the ubiquitous meat-filled pastry known by some version of that name from pretty much Germany on eastward. (Actually, wouldn't "pierogi" be another example?)

    Image

    This one was quite interesting, though not freshly baked, filled with some ground meat-- pork, maybe, who knows?-- and a lot of dill, which was different.

    The last stand was the most ambitious-looking-- a Polish ringer brought in no doubt because they had the equipment to set up and cook sausage and kebabs in quantity:

    Image

    As well as pierogi and a steady stream of potato pancakes:

    Image

    Image

    The pierogi and cabbage rolls weren't a patch on the Ukrainian Cultural Center ones, but the sausage was plenty good, and the potato pancakes-- oh man, that lady looked like she knew how to make potato pancakes, hell, she looked like she knew how to make potato pancakes for the entire Polish Army without breaking a sweat, and you know what? She did. They're great.

    Armed with enough food for eight people, we sat down in the tent and watched the entertainment. Here some traditional dancers watch...

    Image

    Some tango dancers. Is tango big in the Ukraine? It seemed to be big here.

    Image

    Then, stuffed unmercifully on white food, we wandered and played carny games, blowing even more money even more quickly.

    Image

    Good food, great people-watching, a total out-of-Chicago experience-- I highly recommend a visit on Sunday, on Superior just east of Oakley, next to Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1 pm to 10 pm Sunday.

    Image
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  • Post #5 - September 9th, 2006, 11:22 pm
    Post #5 - September 9th, 2006, 11:22 pm Post #5 - September 9th, 2006, 11:22 pm
    Mike, the cabbage rolls are halupki, I think. Good looking fest.
  • Post #6 - September 10th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Post #6 - September 10th, 2006, 10:44 am Post #6 - September 10th, 2006, 10:44 am
    It sounds like the Ukrainian Festival was a lot of fun! I think you made the right choice instead of bringin' the kids to German American Fest. I work in the area and every year the so called "family festival" turns into an all out drink-a-thon by the afternoon. However, next weekend in Lincoln Square on September 16 is Applefest. Its a fun day right in Lincoln Square's main plaza, with apple pie eating contests, a sidewalk sale and crafts show, games for the kids,an apple pie recipe contest, a baking class at the Chopping Block and live music. It's one of the nicest festivals that the Lincoln Square area has and (being a girl who grew up in the boonies) I have to say that there is almost a "county fair" atmosphere around the whole area for the day. I encourage everyone to check it out!

    for a complete schedule go to:

    http://www.lincolnsquare.org/
  • Post #7 - September 10th, 2006, 11:54 am
    Post #7 - September 10th, 2006, 11:54 am Post #7 - September 10th, 2006, 11:54 am
    We've done the German fest at least twice; it's worth it for eating that kind of food once in a blue moon, although it's exactly the same every year, and for watching the Von Steuben Day parade (one of those great Chicago events that even a place full of Germans like Kansas would never have; only a place where Germans are in competition with a zillion other ethnic groups for the attention of politicians would feel the need). But it's pretty sparse earlier in the day and, as you say, a drinking event rather than a family event later on. (I have to say I was surprised at how little beer and wine was being sold and consumed at the Ukrainian fest by comparison, even by 8 pm.)

    Image
    Last year's Von Steuben parade.

    Thanks for the heads up on Applefest; we walked through it by chance last year, when most things were already closing up, but maybe we'll have to make more of a point of attending it this time.

    Speaking of apples, I also noticed signs for this at Around the Coyote:

    http://www.bucktownapplepiecontest.com/
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #8 - September 10th, 2006, 3:18 pm
    Post #8 - September 10th, 2006, 3:18 pm Post #8 - September 10th, 2006, 3:18 pm
    Mike G wrote:Ukrainian fest.
    Image

    Mike,

    I think we can count ourselves lucky M Eng didn't review the Ukrainian fest this weekend. :roll:

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - September 19th, 2006, 2:33 pm
    Post #9 - September 19th, 2006, 2:33 pm Post #9 - September 19th, 2006, 2:33 pm
    MikeG wrote:Good food, great people-watching, a total out-of-Chicago experience--


    Which is exactly why I always send out-of-towners there. The last ones were my brother and his fiancee from L.A., who thought they were in for some commercialized beer fest. The daytime entertainment was positively "commie," with some rock band trying to summon Gorky Park's "glory days." The crowd was pretty stoic; sitting with arms folded and all. After each number, you'd hear silence, and then a few claps. The whole fest is great -- I hope it doesn't change.

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