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

Executive director of the Matheson History Museum Peggy Macdonald admires artifacts of Marjorie Harris Carr. The zoologist used the leather saddle on research trips to Honduras in the 1940s.

Women Leaders Exhibit Opens at Matheson History Museum

The Matheson History Museum opened its new exhibit, “Saving the Sunshine State: Women Leaders in the 20th Century,” featuring artifacts and rare photos from Mary McLeod Bethune, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Marjorie Harris Carr, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, May Mann Jennings and Zora Neale Hurston. The exhibit opened yesterday and runs until Oct. 31.


Jenica Frederickson paints an original work called “Dream Land.” The artist is also  teacher at Matanza High School and volunteers at the local theater

Flagler County Artist Developing Documentary On Community

Jenica Frederickson’s documentary centered on how students and teachers define community focuses on peoples’ need to feel love, safety and understanding. She is gathering the point of view of artists, teachers and healers to spread awareness of the problems her subjects faced with identity problems.


Gainesville Adopts Plan to Form Arts Council, Improve Website

The Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department adopted its 352ArtsRoadmap Cultural Plan on Thursday. The 10-year plan aims to enhance and promote the city’s arts community through an arts council and website.


Andrew Schaer works the front desk of Hear Again Music and Movies in downtown Gainesville. The storeowner said he’s noticed a rise in the popularity of vinyl records among the younger generation.

Younger Generations Revive Vinyl Business For Local Record Stores

The vinyl records market has been revived. Business at local record stores has followed an upward trend with the resurgence of a younger audience.


UV-TV records their album in their warehouse studio on May 26, 2015. Rose Vastola, 24, began playing bass a few years ago with her boyfriend and UV-TV guitarist, Ian Bernacett, 25, and 22-year-old drummer, Matt Brotton.

Gainesville Punk Scene Provides Creative Outlet Beyond Traditional Norms

Women are entering the Gainesville punk subculture as an alternative to the mainstream norm. According to Rose Vastola, lead singer of UV-TV, Gainesville welcomes creativity regardless of gender.


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
Underwriting Payments