People PowerOne of the best parts of coordinating Babas & Borshch has been meeting new people, both Ukrainians and ‘wannabes.’ While I don’t have the chance to connect with every individual festival-goer, I have had the pleasure of getting to know performers, presenters, musicians, vendors, government employees, politicians, media, sponsors and supporters, movers and shakers in the world of Ukrainian organizations and foundations.
While there have been two or three stinkers or maybe five tops, everyone else has been incredible, helpful, generous, talented, committed, reliable, passionate.
With some people, it’s been a straightforward business-like transaction, though I do try to add humour and subtract pretension every chance I get.
With others, the relationship has evolved into friendship, coffee or lunch dates, shared goals, rapport, trusted confidence sharing.
In the short life of Babas & Borshch, we’ve lost some people to death. In this In Memoriam section I’d like to mention the three I’m aware of.
Gail Hall was a talented chef, caterer, food activist and teacher. She anchored our Borshch Cook Off judges’ panel for four years. Because she believed in what we were doing she taught borshch making classes, donated group cooking lessons for our silent auctions, talked up the Festival during TV cooking segments, singlehandedly sold umpteen Zabava tickets, camped in Andrew with hubby Jon festival weekends, and provided advice and encouragement when it was needed. On November 16, 2016, at age 65 she succumbed to complications of cancer and the food world lost a shining star. We believe she’s gone to that big kitchen in the sky.
Andrew Antoniuk was a gentle, soft-spoken soul committed to shedding light on the deplorable treatment of Ukrainians during Canada’s Internment Operation. He and Linda Gerhardt made presentations during Festival 2014 marking the 100th anniversary of this dark time in our history. Andy was a founding member of DUCIVA (Descendants of Ukrainian Canadian Internee Victims Association). He died on June 6, 2015 at the age of 88. We’re honoured he was able to bring this important information to the festival despite his declining health.
I really didn’t know Norman Delitzoy but had no trouble recognizing his Edmonton Journal obituary photo. He brought his handlebar mustache, snazzy Ukrainian shirt, and borshch to the 2016 Borshch Cook Off. And while he didn’t win a prize, he was a crowd favourite with his charming good looks. He passed away February 21, 2017 at the age of 80.
We’re grateful for the contributions of all our festival friends.