Latvia celebrated 100 years of independence last year. But it was a tumultuous hundred years, with half of that time occupied by either the Soviets or Nazi Germany. During these years, many Latvians fled their home country and settled in the United States, including many in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph Counties.
The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center is bringing the story of Latvia to Main Street Pub on Sunday, April 28 from 1-3:30 p.m. Maira Bundza, past president of the Kalamazoo Latvian Association, will begin the presentation of Latvian history. Inta Srader, who just recently published “Choices and Serendipity – My Family’s Journey out of Chaos” will also speak. Although her book does document some of the traumas endured by her family, Srader explains that her book focuses on “the resiliency of Latvian peoples and the love of their country and its heritage.” Anita Gauthier Spolite will be collaborating with Mike Moore, chef at Main Street Pub, to create an authentic Latvian meal.
The Kalamazoo Latvian Association was founded in 1950 by Latvian refugees from WWII. Most had narrowly escaped their homeland after the Russian invasion of 1944. There is now a third generation of Latvians continuing to gather and celebrate their culture in Kalamazoo.
In addition, participants will hear about Garezers, a campground and education center in Three Rivers. Garezers prospers as a meeting place for Latvians of all ages, to raise and educate Latvian youth, to strengthen the Latvian language, culture and spiritual values, to promote the Latvian heritage and develop links with Latvia.
The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center will also feature a very special exhibit of artifacts and artworks from Latvia and local Latvian artists. The exhibit will be located at 101 E. Prairie in Vicksburg and will open on Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m. Additional hours are listed at http://www.vicksburgarts.com/events. You can also request a special viewing by calling (269)200-2223. The exhibit will close May 3.
Tickets to Destination Latvia are now on sale for $28 and can be purchased on line at http://www.vicksburgarts.com/events, on Eventbrite at http://www.eventbrite.com or reserve by phone at (269) 200-2223.