GOSHEN — Over the last eight years, members of a church community in Goshen have shared their traditions while they give to the community.
The eighth annual Russian Festival took place Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Holy Virgin Protection Orthodox Church in Goshen, 61355 C.R. 21, and members of the church believe this year brought more people to the festival than ever before.
A steady stream of visitors walked the church grounds, learning about Russian culture at booths, eating traditional Eastern European food and taking tours of the church.
Men and women bustled around the kitchen preparing food to keep the pots filled with borscht, blini and beef stroganoff, all traditional Eastern European dishes. Hieromonk Timothy Tadros, acting rector at the church, said the kitchen was busier Saturday than the year before, but it wasn’t anything the staff couldn’t handle.
“I think (the festival is) going pretty good,” Tadros said Saturday in the early afternoon. “There’s more people than we expected. At least right now it’s a little daunting for our kitchen crew, but they’re keeping up with it.”
The Holy Virgin Protection Orthodox Church was established in the early 1950s, shortly after the first Eastern European immigrants arrived in Goshen.
Because the parish has been around for more than 50 years now, it is not entirely unknown to the community, but there are aspects about the culture that many might still not know, Tadros said.
“Part of being an ethnic parish, you try to reach out to the community,” he said.
Outside, members of the church sold books, toys and other items of Eastern European origin and talked with visitors about the Russian culture.
Alexandra Chugunova, 17, sat at a booth selling books. Chugonova, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and grew up in the Midwest, has been a member of the church since she was 3 years old.
She said she has made it to the festival every year since its beginning eight years ago.
“We’d like everyone to have a good understanding of our culture, and not just like the stereotype,” she said.
Tents were placed outside the church, giving people opportunity to eat and watch the performances prepared for the festival.
Children dressed in traditional garb that represented gypsies, peasants and the upper class danced waltzes and sang.
Sofia Ivanova, a member of the church who helps coordinate the performances, said though Tadros is in charge of coordinating the event, all the members of the church did their part to help.
“We all look forward to helping the community,” she said, “and we work so hard to share our culture with others.”