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Full day of activities slated for Russian Festival

by Jeanne Baron

Nov. 2, 2011 | WMU News

Artwork for Kalamazoo Russian Festival.
Kalamazoo Russian Festival
Saturday, Nov. 19
KALAMAZOO--Russian art, culture and history will be highlighted in a series of activities taking place during Kalamazoo's 16th annual Russian Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, in the Fetzer Center on Western Michigan University's main campus.

More than 1,000 guests, performers and vendors from Russia, the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C., and throughout the Midwest are expected to attend.

As a mark of the family-friendly festival's caliber and growing popularity, representatives from the Russian Embassy and Russian school students take time to prepare for the festival each year, and Kalamazoo is the only U.S. location they travel to from Washington, D.C.

Photo of Kalamazoo Russian Festival.
Activities, exhibits, performances and vendors
Along with crafts, food and children's activities, the festival will feature artistic and cultural exhibits; lectures, readings and performances by Western Michigan University faculty members as well as guest speakers and artists; a silent auction; and two exhibition halls full of vendors.

"Our scholarly events on Russian culture and politics continue to attract students, educators and the general public," says Judith Rypma, festival co-chair and a WMU master faculty specialist in English. "This year, we'll have presentations on topics such as Russian iconography, legends and myths associated with amber, and children's short films."

There also will be a demonstration and presentation on the Ukrainian and Russian pysanki, or decorated, eggs; an appearance by the Russian School of West Michigan Dancers; a chess room where attendees can test their skill or learn how to play with local masters; and a performance of one of Russia's best-known literary works, Alexander Pushkin's "Ruslan and Ludmilla," by high school students from the Marshall Academy in Marshall, Mich.

The festival will begin at 10 a.m. with opening remarks by WMU President John M. Dunn, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, state Rep. Sean McCann and a keynote address by a diplomat from the Russian Consulate.

Photo of Stas Venglevski.
Stas Venglevski
Headlining this year's event at 3 p.m. will be Stas Venglevski, world-renowned virtuoso on the bayan (Russian version of the accordion), who will be performing classical-to-contemporary music with Misha Litvin, a master of the domra (a Russian mandolin).

The Russian festival, which is being co-sponsored this year by WMU's Lee Honors College and departments of English and Theatre, is staged annually by the Kalamazoo Russian Culture Association, formerly the Kalamazoo-Pushkin Partnership. The association hosts the festival and other events throughout the year and fosters community ties with Pushkin, Kalamazoo's Russian sister city. Most recently, it has donated to Russian orphanages and facilities for the disabled.

Admission to the festival costs $10 for adults, $5 for students and $2 for children age 12 and under. Food is purchased separately, but all performances at the festival are included in the ticket cost. Related events leading up to festival day are posted on the festival website as they are scheduled. Tickets for those events are sold separately and available at the events' venues.

For more information about the Kalamazoo Russian Festival, visit or contact Judith Rypma at or (269) 387-2628. A partial list of events at WMU related to the 2011 Kalamazoo Russian Festival follows.

Pre-Kalamazoo Russian Festival events at WMU

Kalamazoo Russian Festival events at WMU
Saturday, Nov. 19

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