WUFT News

“Viva Europe!” brings European culture to Gainesville

By on March 25th, 2013

Europe arrived in Gainesville this weekend as adults and children eagerly watched and sang along to musical performances, ate European cuisine and took part in games and activities at the 2013 “Viva Europe!” festival on Saturday.

The UF Center for European Studies, International Center and Santa Fe College hosted the festival for the second year in a row. According to the Center’s outreach coordinator, Gail Keeler, approximately 1,500 people attended, despite the rainy weather.

“People are eager to learn,” said Keeler. “If you just give them the opportunity, they’re eager to learn about different cultures and to experience things. And the rain won’t keep them away.”

The event took place at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Despite the rainy weather, guests could explore the Tour d’Europe, a tented area with display tables representing different European countries such as Spain, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Russia. You could learn how to write your name in Russian, look at paintings of 18th century Istanbul or learn how to say a few words in Spanish.

Olesya Dudenkova, 23 (left) writes a boy's name in Russian at the 2013 "Viva Europe!" festival on Saturday in downtown Gainesville.

Shaneece Dixon / WUFT News

Olesya Dudenkova, 23 (left) writes a boy's name in Russian at the 2013 "Viva Europe!" festival on Saturday in downtown Gainesville.

One volunteer was eager to answer attendees’ questions, as they passed by her Russia display table, hoping to give them a new European experience.

“I hope they get different perspectives of Europe,” said Olesya Dudenkova, a graduate assistant for the Center of European Studies. “Not just the stereotypes associated with different countries.”

Guests could also taste some authentic foods from these countries, such as crepes, falafel and Italian ices. Younger children could also take part in the festivities by getting their face and hands painted and playing bocce.

Attendees could also purchase jewelry, dolls, literature and other souvenirs at the marketplace, where all proceeds would go toward future projects to help disadvantaged children in local schools. Lisa Booth, a PhD candidate at UF, said initiatives such as “Viva Europe!” is necessary for a successful relationship between the U.S. and the European Union.

Guests could buy items like these dolls, from the marketplace at the 2013 "Viva Europe" festival at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

Shaneece Dixon / WUFT News

Guests could buy items like these dolls, from the marketplace at the 2013 "Viva Europe" festival at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

“The state of Florida and the E.U. have significant economic ties and knowing more about this helps with that relationship,” said Booth, who studies European history with a specialization in Russia.

But perhaps the most enticing part of the festival were the various musical performances. There was everything from Irish folk music to English country dancing to traditional Greek dances.

Performers such as the Gainesville English Country Dancers, the Greek American Student Association and the Türk Kültür Merkezi Halk Oyunları Ekibi, a Turkish dance troupe from Montreal, invited guests on stage to learn traditional dances.

The Gainesville English Country Dancers, along with their band, Hoggetowne Fancy band, teach audience members a simple traditional dance at the 2013 "Viva Europe!" festival.

Shaneece Dixon / WUFT News

The Gainesville English Country Dancers, along with their band, Hoggetowne Fancy band, teach audience members a simple traditional dance at the 2013 "Viva Europe!" festival.

“Dancing has a long tradition for many centuries,” said Piper Call, a lead dancer from the Gainesville English Country Dancers. “In the modern day, it existed all over the country. We are very welcoming of all dancers. Anybody at any age can do it.”

And at the beginning of every hour, there was a “Top of the Hour Folk Song Sing-A-Long,” where guests could sing and dance to popular songs like the “Macarena.” Despite her past experience of performing for crowds of people, Ottilia Varga, who stunned the audience with her Hungarian bottle dance, was taken aback by the event overall.

“Everybody was very friendly and open,” said Varga, who is originally from Hungary and is now an organizer of the Sarasota Folk Dance Camp. “I think the event could hold more countries and more people.”


This entry was posted in Arts and Entertainment and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Arts and Entertainment

Downtown Gainesville’s historic Bo Diddley Plaza will be fenced off for renovations on March 1. Nathalie McCrate, a project manager for the Gainesville CRA, said the CRA has done extensive community outreach to ensure a smooth transition for its homeless inhabitants.

Bo Diddley Plaza Renovations Bring In New Era

Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville is closing Sunday for renovations. The renovations are expected to last one year and will include additions to the performance area, a new café, an informational kiosk and relocating an existing bus stop.


Nava Ottenberg has led the plan for installing public art downtown. Ottenberg stands outside Persona, her vintage shop downtown, next to Peruvian artist Victor Delfín’s stag sculpture. Ottenberg is inspired by travelling the world and seeing art in other cultures. Italy is her favorite travel spot. Christine Flammia/ WUFT NEWS

Local Activists Bring Art Ventures To Gainesville

A Peruvian artist’s scrap metal rooster inspired local community activists to start a downtown art movement. The creators hope it will attract more locals to Gainesville’s art scene.


DSCN5349

Traveling Exhibit Remembers Florida Blues History

Blues music has taken over Gainesville in the form of an exhibit at the Matheson History Museum. “Florida’s Got the Blues” runs through April 30 and showcases the history of blues music in North Central Florida.


SoMa Art Media Hub co-owners Celino Dimitroff, left, and Charley McWhorter sit where they hope local artists will soon collaborate on projects. “We all work together; this is a hub,” McWhorter said of the local artist community.

Local Artists Open Supply Store, Collaboration Hub

Two local artists opened the SoMa Art Media Hub, an art supply store, on Monday with the intent of making it a central art hub for other local artists. SoMa fills a void that was left when Central Florida Office Plus closed in 2014.


Erin McConnell, the founder of Heroes United Against Cosplay Bullying, is planning to wear her Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter cosplay this weekend at SwampCon. She and the rest of the team will be presenting their panel at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Cosplayers Take Anti-bullying Initiative To Next Level

Longtime Gainesville cosplayer Erin McConnell is spearheading a Facebook initiative called “Heroes United Against Cosplay Bullying,” which encourages cosplayers — costume role-playes — to combat cyberbullying.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments