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Shevchenko Celebration, 2014

This month marked the bicentennial of Ukrainian author and political figure Taras Shevchenko's birth, and to honor the important figure, Newton's Organization Promotion Everlasting Neighbors hosted a poetry contest and cultural reception.  

More than 65 people attended the event at DMACC. It included Ukrainian food, music and poetry readings of both the contest winners and Shevchenko.  

The cultural reception was a chance for Ukrainians to teach those interested about the country and to provide a better understanding of Ukraine's struggle for independence.  

"Events like this are important to us to see other Ukrainians, share the culture and is important, especially for the children, so they know to continue some of the traditions and know about the culture. It's very nice for us to see Americans that are interested in things outside of Iowa and that people who follow politics care," Ukrainian musical guest Vera Bebich said.  

Freedom, democracy, equality and advocacy for people's voices and rights were the poetry contest themes. 20 poems were entered into the contest and three were chosen to best meet those themes. First place winner was Barry Hurto; second place, Joelly Scheff and third place, Eden Brierly.

Shevchenko was a humanist who gave growth to Ukrainian consciousness and promoted literacy.

"It's important to have individual governments and that countries have their own identity and language. (Shevchenko) was a non-violent, caring kind of person and knew the importance of showing allegiance to your country," OPEN chair Jane Ann Cotton said.

 Click here to read winning poems.

OPEN President Jane Ann Cotton giving opening remarks at the Shevchenko celebration event.

Ukrainians and Americans in traditional Ukrainian clothing.


Display of Ukrainian embroidery and Shevchenko's poems and art.

3rd place poetry contest winner Eden Brierly receiving her certificate.


OPEN board member Kate Malott serving Honey Cake.

OPEN board members and friends enjoying Ukrainian borsch and cabbage rolls.

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