Diversitat’s Pako Festa is the largest free celebration of cultural diversity in Australia! With the event celebrating its 35th Birthday this Saturday (25 February), I caught up with Gina from Geelong’s Serbian community.
‘Pako Festa – It is such a wonderful, wonderful day. I love being part of it. The Serbian Community has been involved since the Pako Festa first started 35 years ago and I’ve been involved for 25 years myself. A large group of Serbs came out to Geelong after World War II. They assimilated well and built a church on the Ballarat Rd.
‘Personally, I migrated from Kosovo as a 10 year old in 1971. My Mum chose to come to Geelong as she had two brothers here. I met a young Serbian man when visiting over there and we kept in touch and married. He came out here and we have two children and one grandchild, with another on the way.
‘There used to be a migrant hostel near Bunnings in North Geelong- I think Diversitat have an English school there now. We didn’t have to go through that hostel scene because of Mum’s 2 brothers, we lived with them initially instead.
‘I love how this wonderful country of ours encourages us to nurture our traditional background and I consider myself really enriched by this experience.
‘There are about a dozen ladies from our Serbian Church group who treat the Pako Festa as a fundraiser. We are involved in the parade and serve Serbian food. It is a chance to share our cultural background and the richness of our culture. As teenagers we were involved in a dance group and travelled all over Australia to perform.’
www.pakofesta.com.au With this year’s theme of “Discover food of the World“, international cuisine will be available from some 20 local community groups. Held in Pakington St, the “the multicultural heart of Geelong”, the street is lined with stalls selling traditional foods and arts and crafts, and six separate stages in the precinct offer performances of music and dance as well as interactive workshops and exhibitions. There’s an extravagant, colourful street parade from 11am featuring around ninety floats and hundreds of performers, representing forty-five affiliated ethnic communities and around sixty other community groups and organisations.
The Serbian Youth Club, Branko Radicevic, will be on the West Park Stage at 3.55pm.