IRONDEQUOIT N.Y. (WROC) — The St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Festival kicked off Thursday in Irondequoit. The festival run through Sunday evening.

The festival has been going on for 50 years, but the past two years have been a drive-thru event due to the pandemic. This year’s event also holds a special place in many people’s hearts — amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.  

The organizer of the event, Roman Lewyckyj says getting together for events like this is vital in being passed on to younger generations.

“Even before what’s happening in Ukraine this year with the war,” Lewyckyj said. “This was a way for us to maintain and share our heritage.”

Richard Sampson hosted the first Ukrainian festival back in the early 70’s. He says it started out as a church Christmas lunch gathering.

“We started talking and we said ‘you know what we should do? We should share our culture with our neighbors,'” Sampson said.

The festival is free and is being held at St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church on East Ridge Road in Rochester.