Ethnic communities cook up a storm

Sofiyka and Maksym Musyt in traditional Ukrainian costume. (Rebecca Hosking) 229305_01

By Luke Voogt

Hamlyn Heights Australian-Ukrainian siblings Sofiyka and Maksyn Musyt have dressed up for the Pako Festa parade for eight years to celebrate the best of two worlds.

Sofiyka, 13, and Maksyn, 16, joined the colourful multicultural parade soon after their family migrated to Australia, according to mother Melissa.

“They’ve dressed up ever since they were little,” she said.

“My daughter was in prep when she first entered the parade.

“It speaks to parts of their identity that perhaps their friends don’t get to see. They feel like they’re strongly connected to both cultures.

“It’s so lovely and exciting to see everyone in their national costumes each year.”

Melissa met husband Viktor while teaching at an international school in Kiev about 20 years ago.

The children were born in Australia but the family lived in Ukraine for a few years before returning.

They were disappointed this year’s parade had been cancelled but acknowledged the need to protect public health and safety amid COVID-19, Melissa said.

“They couldn’t believe it but I said, ‘well, there’s not much you can do about it’.”

Instead they plan to dig into some fantastic food as the local Ukrainian community cooks up a storm at their hall on Pakington Street.

“They love the food so they’ll be there to eat it,” Melissa said.

The site is one of 13 across Geelong featuring cuisine from 19 ethnic communities.

While bookings have closed for food, nightly projections at Geelong West Town Hall will also replace the iconic parade for two weeks beginning tomorrow.

Pako Festa will also showcase schools and professional and emerging artists in shop windows along Pakington Street in its Elements of Culture Arts Trail.