27 April 2023

Multicultural Eats: Taste your way around the European Festival

| Lucy Ridge
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Two pigs on a spit with cured meats and rolls

Mirna Bistro at the Australian Croatian Club will be making pulled pork rolls from spit-roasted pork! Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Celebrate a taste of Europe at the European Festival on Sunday, 7 May. For the second year running, this event is a collaboration between neighbouring cultural clubs the White Eagle Polish Club, the Australian Croatian Club and the Alliance Française Canberra.

The festival will be held across the three venues on the corner of McCaughey Street and David Street in Turner. There will be plenty of food and drink stalls showcasing the best of Croatian, Polish and French cuisines, and the festival will also feature other European cultures.

Andrew Bajkowski from the Polish Club said that the festival celebrates the European roots of this part of Canberra.

“This is where a lot of European migrants actually settled when they came up off the Snowy Hydro scheme. That’s why you’ve got the Polish club, Croatian club and once upon a time there used to be a Lithuanian club up the road and a Hungarian club in Dickson,” he explained.

“We’ve always been firmly ensconced in this area.”

Three people smile behind a table laden with food.

Dom Polegubic (L) from the Croatian Club, Andrew Bajkowski (centre) from the Polish Club and Augustine Le Du (R) from the Alliance Francaise. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Australian Croatian Club president Dom Polegubic said that the clubs were really pleased with the turnout last year and are excited to host the event again.

“All three clubs work together, and we’re right next door to each other … last year we had over 5500 attendees across all three clubs at the festival!” he said.

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Festival attendees can expect a delicious mix of cuisines on the day, with stalls selling Croatian palačinke (thin crepe), Turkish gözleme, Italian cannoli, Polish pierogi and gołąbki, Spanish chorizo, Latvian pīrāgi (bacon buns) and much more.

The Mirna bistro – which runs the kitchen at the Croatian Club – will be serving pulled pork rolls made from spit-roasted pork, while the O’Connor Knights Soccer Club will be grilling ćevapi sausages and ražnjići skewers. But don’t worry: vegetarians will also be catered for.

There will be a range of different drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – at each club, including Polish and Ukrainian beer, Croatian spirits and French wine.

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Alliance Française intern Augustine Le Du said that they will be promoting their French language classes and showcasing culture with a French band and songs for children, as well as hosting a number of delicious food stalls serving macarons, crêpes and viennoiserie (pastries).

Group of dancers in traditional Polish costume

The Polish White Eagle Club’s Wielkopolska Dance Group will perform at the festival. Photo: Andrew Bajkowski.

The festival will feature traditional music and dancing across the venues, with acts such as Wielkopolska doing traditional Polish folk dancing.

This year the event is raising funds for the Türkiye and Syria earthquake relief efforts with a raffle. Last year, the festival raised over $4000 for the Ukrainian community and Médecins Sans Frontières.

The organisers are hoping for a sunny Autumn day, but say there is plenty of indoor space inside the three venues in the event of poor weather.

Poster for the festival

The European Festival is in its second year. Photo: supplied.

The European Festival will be held at 66-68 McCaughey Street, Turner from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday 7 May. Attendance is free.

For more details, visit the White Eagle Polish Club, Alliance Française and Australian Croatian Club websites.

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Capital Retro6:23 pm 28 Apr 23

When is the government going to commission a documented history of all the ethnic clubs that were established in Canberra?

The story of the Finnish Club in at Jamison alone would cover several chapters.

Sounds awesome!…..but if memory serves me correctly, the Hungarian club was in Narrabundah?

Robert Mihalyka4:10 pm 28 Apr 23

Original Hungarian club was in Dickson , now the Tradies club. It burned down so they moved to Narrabundah.

That must have been a long time ago Robert Mihalyka. I have been in Canberra since the early 70s but can’t remember the Hungarian club there

Antonia Lehn1:53 pm 29 Apr 23

I remember the Hungarian Club in Dickson in the early 70s.

Thanks Robert, had no idea it was originally in Dickson. I do know football legend Ferenc Puskas visited the Narrabundah version in the 80/90’s though….

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