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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Croatian heritage on display at national centre for Folk Arts Festival
Folklore group Hrvatsko Selo performed at the open house at the Croatian National Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the region's Folk Arts Festival. JULIA SACCO

The Croatian National Centre of Niagara kicked off the region’s annual Folk Arts Festival on Saturday with an open house at the centre’s home on Line 3 Road.

The open house featured traditional food, music and performances by Croatians from Niagara and beyond. 

This came shortly after Ontario legally declared May 30 as Croatian Heritage Day across the province. 

Ante Jović, consulate general of Croatia, told The Lake Report said that the passing of Croatian Heritage Day is an “example of the many strong contributions of Croatians to this province in the last century.”

The Croatian National Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake is a perfect example of this, he added.

Allison Welbourn, music instructor for the Croatian folklore group Hrvatsko Selo, said that the celebration of culture and heritage has brought the group all around North America — including Los Angeles, Illinois and this town.

Welbourn said that Croatian people, no matter their connections to their heritage, are passionate about keeping it alive.

“Some of us are third-generation Croatians and despite that, we understand the importance of preserving and sharing our traditions,” she said. 

No matter where people live now, Welbourn said, Croatians all want that same thing — a connection to their culture. 

Nigel Young-Chin, who was serving up traditional cevapcici, said that he is an example of the welcoming nature of the Croatian community.

“I’m here through my wife,” he said, explaining that he participates in cultural activities thanks to her being Croatian, even though he isn’t.

“It shows that anyone who wants to be Croatian can be Croatian,” he added. 

Coun. Erwin Wiens, the deputy lord mayor, came by and expressed his thanks to the Croatian National Centre for bringing their culture to NOTL.

“You’ve brought a special heritage, special culture, special food,” Wiens said.

“And you’ve transformed this into a wonderful environment for people to come and enjoy,” he added.

Josipa Petrunic, president of the centre, expressed her thanks to the town and council.

“You have been a big support,” she said. 

juliasacco@niagaranow.com

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