Chicago’s Ukrainian festival, Uketoberfest, aims to raise money to help the humanitarian effort amid war in Ukraine

CHICAGO (WLS) — It’s been three years since St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago was able to hold its annual celebration of all things Ukrainian.

Dubbed “Uketoberfest”, the two-day festival brings together the best of Ukrainian arts and crafts, food and music.

In the past, the festival served as a fundraiser for the parish. But not this year, not with a war raging in Ukraine.

“It affects us every day. There is always someone who has family, I would say 95% of the parish has family members directly affected by the war,” said Father Mykola Buryadnyk, from St Joseph Ukrainian Catholic Church.

To that end, all proceeds raised from the event will be used to help the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, with much of the aid going to injured soldiers.

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Help Heroes of Ukraine, a Carol Stream-based nonprofit that sends everyday items to Ukrainian fighters to help support themselves, also focuses on aiding the war effort.

“Bulletproof vests, bulletproof helmets, tourniquets – something to save lives,” said David Bovik, a volunteer with Help Heroes of Ukraine.

It is an effort appreciated by those who are here.

Among the 10,000 people expected at the festival this weekend are refugees, such as 25-year-old medical student Sofeya Beskrovna. She left Ukraine with her mother last month and now lives temporarily with a cousin in Chicago.

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“Throughout the day, all night, we hear the alarm, you know, and we just wait whether the bomb comes or not,” Beskrovna recalls.

The two-day festival continues Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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