Downtown festival Saturday offers tastes of Europe

Published: March 22 2013

Category:Happenings, InsideUF

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors to downtown Gainesville Saturday can enjoy the experiences of Europe without crossing the ocean.

The UF Center for European Studies, the UF International Center and Santa Fe College are offering the VIVA EUROPE! Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Admission is free.

Festival goers can get their fortunes told in coffee grounds, write their name in Cyrillic, say “Go Gators” in Dutch or Hungarian, buy earrings from Poland, learn to dance a Greek patma, eat crepes or hand-fired pizza, and learn about European cultures in lots of fun ways.

The festival will feature music and dance performances all day. The Türk Kültür Merkezi Halk Oyunları Ekibi, a dance group from Montreal, starts the day with regional dances of Turkey, followed by O’Reilly & Co., a lively Irish band. Next up are the English country dancers and their band, Hoggetowne Fancy, followed by the Greek American Student Association, dancing in costume. Turkish dancers will end the day.

At the top of every hour, beginning at noon, there will be a folk song sing-along, with popular French, Spanish, German and Italian folk songs.

“We are excited about offering the public fun ways to learn firsthand about Europe or to take home a piece of European culture,” said Gail Keeler, festival director and CES outreach coordinator. “So many of us have a European heritage and VIVA EUROPE! is a way to embrace that.”

People can play bocce, an Italian lawn bowling game, or dominoes. Handmade items, accessories and jewelry from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Turkey will be sold.

Student and community groups from 20 countries will have displays with people speaking or writing in their languages, making a craft item, playing a game or singing a folk song.

The CES is a federally designated National Resource Center and offers an international major, coursework in Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Polish and Turkish, and five study abroad programs.

For more information about VIVA EUROPE!, contact Keeler at 352-294-7144 or

Category:Happenings, InsideUF