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Two decades at Lemkovo Vatra

For almost two decades, one event in the Ternopil region has been collecting 20-30 thousand visitors from year to year. This is the All-Ukrainian festival of Lemkovo culture “Dzvoni Lemkivschini”, which its participants often call the “Lemkovo Vatra”.


Probably, for the first time in recent years, so many guests from abroad came here to the forest tract Bichova on the border of the Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk regions, immediately after the regional center of Monastyrysk, that the festival can safely be called “international”.

The chairman of the Ternopil regional society “Lemkovschina”, Alexander Vengrinovich, agrees with this thesis. He is an ethnic Lemko, one of the initiators and organizers of the festival.

– It’s true, it seems that in the next year such a festival impreza will certainly have an international status. After all, see how many flags here are from Canada, Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Poland, and of course, from Ukraine. Lemkos are scattered around the world. Only in the Ternopil region they live about 200 thousand. And the festival has traditionally been held precisely in the Monastyryssky district, because the largest number of inhabitants in the region with Lemkovo roots live here compactly.

Lemkovskaya vatraLemkovskaya vatra

People come here to this tract, where the Lemko culture open-air museum is located, not just to have fun together in the middle of picturesque nature. They are called by the spirit of their ancestors, reminiscent of recreated Lemkiv houses, these implements near wooden buildings, and the huts with authentic household items. I’m not talking about the very atmosphere of the holiday, which has incorporated the iconic elements of Lemkiv culture, ”said Alexander.


Indeed, “Dzvoni Lemkivshchini” is traditionally distinguished by a rich cultural and artistic programs. So this year’s festival, this is such a mix of folklore, fashion shows in Lemkiv embroidered costumes, and also rows with a huge variety of original wooden and pottery items that will be offered to you by master craftsmen.

A separate topic is embroidery. This is a whole world in which the unique elements of Lemkovo folk art are reflected. And this is understandable, because the art of embroidery in Lemkovo families is passed down from generation to generation.

Stefania Novatskaya from the village of Slobodki in the Ternopil region brought her unique products and a respectable by age lemkina. She is the oldest participant in the current “Lemkovsky Vatra”, Mrs. Stephanie – 90! From the first years of Ukraine’s independence, already in her retirement age, she set about making samples of costumes of all nationalities living in Ukraine. And her collection is not just, so to speak, a “display case”, a museum exhibit, it is “living”. Why? Listen to what the craftswoman says.

Lemkovskaya vatraLemkovskaya vatra

– First I carved and embroidered Galician, then Volyn, later Bukovinian, then Transcarpathian folk costumes. Now there are 38 such models. Already about a hundred girls took those dresses – for concerts, festivals, weddings, rural holidays, baptism. Has not yet refused. They want to buy, but I don’t sell it. Because there is my soul. I’m adding something of my own, Lemkovo, to these dresses, some patterns, ornaments, like on that 130-year-old mother’s dress, which I still keep in the chest, as the most expensive legacy. True, the dresses that I give people for different defile are worn out a little, but it’s nothing, better than eating a moth, – laughs Mrs. Stefania.

Lemkovskaya vatraLemkovskaya vatra

And another artistic sign of the festival is the song. After all, lemko without a song is not lemko. Therefore, Lemko’s song is always in the repertoires of singers and groups, which annually perform at the Lemkovskaya Vatra. It’s also proudly reminded that at one time, the Ukrainian singer Jamala with the Lemkiv song “Oh Vershie, My Verhshit” won the Grand Prix at the International Festival in Jurmala, and a young Lviv singer with Lemkiv roots Kristina Solovy entered the Voice of the Land contest the five best votes of Ukraine. Therefore, there are dissonance over the forest glades Lemkovo songs. Funny and sad. And among them – the song-crying Maidan. It’s already five years at the beginning of the festival, when people hear the Lemkiv song “Drinking Pig …” from the stage, they stand up, paying tribute to the memory of our heroes …


Among the festival community, my attention was drawn to a man with a strange laconic poster on his chest: “Lemko from Siberia.” I met Vladimir Pavuk, the head of the Ukrainian National Cultural Autonomy of Novosibirsk “Leleka” public organization, and it was he, who met at the same festival two years ago. And now – a new meeting.

– How is the Ukrainian community now living in Siberian open spaces? – I ask him.

– Life is not too simple. And they beat us more than once in the office, and did other dirty tricks. But we hold on. Most importantly, we want to preserve Ukrainian identity, despite the war. Therefore, we spend various evenings, celebrate saints for each Ukrainian to give.

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