SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the Syracuse Ukrainian Festival returned for its 80th Annual celebration.

The festival featured food, music, dance performances, and a small shopping strip featuring authentic jewelry, clothing, and pottery.

Pat Burak, a third-generation Ukrainian-American, says it is a special time of year as it gives her a chance to celebrate her families heritage.

“This was something our parents and grandparents valued too, it’s not only important for all of us here but it’s important for our posterity and our heritage,” she said. “When I speak with people they’re remembering my parents, they remember our grandparents, everyone comes together.”

Nick Fruscello, director of the festival says it’s not only an opportunity to celebrate but a chance to help members of their Ukrainian community who need it most.

“I think the whole world knows what is happening in Ukraine and of course, a lot of people have come out to help support that,” he said. “We have a big effort this year to collect humanitarian aid while doing everything else here at the church so that’s very near and dear and important to us as a community and we are doing our best to help.”

Both Burak and Fruscello agree that the festival is also a reminder to stick together and it shows the rest of the world that Ukrainians continue to remain strong.

“We say it time and time again,” Fruscello explained. “But to be able to do this, let people taste our food and watch our dancers, try our beer, I think it’s important for people to know that we are strong and that Ukrainians are here and we’re a huge part of this community and we get to share that. That’s key.”

Burak said, “It makes us feel strong, it makes us feel that the world is watching and the world cares.”