For the first time in Canberra, the Australian Croatian Club, the Polish White Eagle Club and Alliance Française de Canberra will come together to host an all-inclusive event, the European Multicultural Festival.
The festival will be held in Turner on Sunday, 22 May, as a special fundraiser to support Ukraine with various traditional food and drink stalls, dance performances, activities for kids, and live music from countries across Europe.
“We just wanted to connect because we want to work together. You know we’re quite friendly with each other, and we’re right next door, and just keen to get people to come and experience the culture of all three countries,” Australian Croatian Club treasurer Dom Polegubic said.
He added that they’ve reached out to several clubs and embassies from across Europe to become involved including the Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Ukrainians.
The clubs are aiming to get over 5,000 attendees across all three clubs at the festival.
“From the Croatian side of things, we’re going to have krofne Croatian doughnuts, the Spit Shack, burek, the Melted Toasted sandwich emporium and our kitchen is going to be serving traditional Croatian food such as spit roasts,” Dom said.
“We’ll also have Croatian Heritage Wines and Dalika small goods featuring Croatian premium wines and meats where people can do some wine tasting.”
The event will also feature Croatian folklore dancing, live music by local Croatian band Ekipa, appearances by the O’Connor Knights football team and a recital by the Croatian Ethnic School.
Dom said he looked forward to the festival.
“I think it’s a good way for people to experience the European cultures and get out before it gets too cold,” he said.
“Our club’s mandate is to open the club up to all Australians but showcase the Croatian culture.”
Polish White Eagle Club coordinator Andrew Bajowski said the event was about celebrating the contribution of European migrants in Canberra as they were “a distinct footprint in the development of Canberra”.
“It’s about remembering the dynamic history of post World War II migration and that those groups were very much a key part of the early part of our city’s development,” he said.
“They came to Australia and worked on the Snowy Scheme, and after that was built, they came here to Canberra. Many were displaced and couldn’t go back to their homelands. A lot ended up here in the Inner North. Where else could they go?
“The European Multicultural Festival aims to encourage people to take an interest in learning a European language, as well as enjoying the colour, dancing and food. Learning another language – any language – helps your brain grow,” Andrew said.
The Canberra Brewers Association will be joining the festival as stallholders with others selling traditional Polish foods, including Pierogi (Polish dumplings) and paczki (Polish doughnuts).
Special performances by the Polish Wielkopolska Dance Group Canberra are also planned for the day.
Alliance Française de Canberra executive director Nancy Ford-Waites said the French club had a large program of activities scheduled throughout the day, including French music, a French choir, interactive French fairy tales, which will be performed for children, and plenty of traditional food and wine on offer.
“One French business, French flair, will be doing wine tasting; another called Home French Home will have French homewares and a few other stalls selling French products and cheeses,” Nancy said.
“There will also be pétanque, a traditional French ball game, the French scouts will be coming along with some activities for children, we’ve got Telopea School P&C selling home-baked goods, and then our staff will be making crêpes, and our bar will be open, selling champagne by the glass and other French wines.”
Nancy said the event is perfect for anyone who loves to eat and drink all things European.
“It’s such a great opportunity for Canberrans who haven’t had that international experience and haven’t been able to travel for such a long time.
“We’re really trying to create an opportunity for them to have an authentic taste of Europe.”
The festival will be held from 11 am to 3 pm at all three Turner venues. Each club will be accepting donations which will go towards a Ukrainian relief fund.
There will also be prizes and giveaways up for grabs on the day, including a coffee machine from Harvey Norman and a Samsung TV.
For more information, visit the European Multicultural Festival.