Kashubian Festival celebrates 15 years

WILNO – On May 4, Wilno Heritage Park sparkled yellow and Kashubian culture radiated throughout the town.

Spring had sprung, daffodils bloomed, and with a music program alike none other, square dancing, Kashubian songs and dances, Polish barbequed treats and doughnuts, the crowd at this year’s 15th Annual Kashub Day Festival gathered early and remained consistent all through the day.

Emcee for the festival David Shulist, also known as Johnny Kashub, told the Gazette, he estimated about anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 people throughout the day participated in this year’s festival.

With community members from abroad Renfrew County, to attendees from Toronto, Hamilton and Mississauga, to name a few, the heritage park had no shortage of happy faces on the plus 25 degrees Celsius Saturday.

“Often, this festival is like a homecoming,” Kashub said. “For many people who move away, this offers individuals the opportunity to come home and connect with their community, and their culture. That’s what we’re doing here, we’re connecting.”

Closer to home, however, it’s all about community members getting back to their roots, gathering together and celebrating, he said.

The first Kashubs arrived in Canada from the Nation of the Kaszebe.

Since 1284, Kaszebe has been a part of several different nations and before stood on its own. The name of the first Kashubian settlement was Princetown, named after the first postmaster Adam Prince.

Now, Princetown is better known as Wilno.

And the festival really is all about celebrating the heritage and history, President of the Wilno Heritage Society Peter Glofcheskie said.

“We’re showcasing our culture,” Kashub added.

What’s more, Shulist went on to say, with such festivities, it’s engaging to people.

“We’re able to promote and preserve our culture this way, as well as offer people a great time,” he said.

In addition, with all types of Kashub souvenirs and clothing, historical books, maps, face painting, a bracelet and beading workshop, the food, music, dancing and local nominees – the society alongside its many volunteers works hard to ensure there’s a little something for everyone, Glofcheskie told the Gazette.

“We continue to work hard to make sure this is an event people want to come back too,” he said.

And their work didn’t just begin on May 4.

Weeks ago, society members began setting up the music programs, ordering clothing and food, for example. It’s a lot of work, with the advertising, licensing, and the physical components, too, Glofcheskie added.

The society also set up all the tents, for instance.

Many volunteers and local businesses also lent a hand to help make the Kashub carnival-like day a reality.

More than 32 businesses helped with advertising costs, the president for the society said. Many more also made donations, including homemade Pączki doughnuts.

“We just hope everyone has a good time,” Glofcheskie said. “We hope to offer community members a great party.”

The Wilno Heritage Society does generate some funds from the event, but that’s not why they host it, Glofcheskie explained – it’s more about celebrating Kashubian heritage, and that’s why the festival remains admission free.

This year’s celebration began with an opening ceremony and blessing from Father Mervin Coulas.

Following the blessing, a unique and special announcement in regards to a new park building project was made.

Glofcheskie announced the heritage society has plans to make the barbeque tent more permanent.

“We want people to be able to enjoy the park and have picnics here too,” he said.

In an effort to help raise funds for revamping the current barbeque tent, he declared all 12 of the current timber posts were for sale.

At $300 apiece, three posts sold instantly.


Story continues in the May 8, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.