Kingstonian Estonians held their fourth annual suvine koosbiibimine Saturday afternoon, July 19, 2008.
It was billed as an old fashioned and fun Estonian style country picnic in the style of our ancestors. It certainly lived up to its billing and the buffet table, as in previous years, consisting of Estonian style food items supplied by the participants was a culinary delight with something to suit every taste. In particular, the deserts were simply sinful.
As in past years, the Taavet sisters graciously provided the use of their cottage on Wolfe Island which is a scenic short ferry ride from historic picturesque downtown Kingston. This year Anu, Eva and Reet had even gone to the trouble of erecting a large tent in case of inclement weather. Fortunately this was not really needed as taeva taat oli lahke and the weather was ideal.
Entertainment was provided by Hanno Bohl and his kannel (a multi stringed musical instrument unique to Estonia), Ulle Baum and her accordion and Andres Raudsepp with his guitar and mellow voice. Eva Eichenbaum Barnes was again the mistress of ceremonies.
Attendance was up a bit from the previous year and there were several new faces. On the way over on the ferry I happened to overhear one of the “newbie’s”, a non-Estonian spouse say to another that she had heard that this group was a friendly one. Given what I saw and heard later I think everyone came away with that impression, especially given the socialization that went on before and during the ferry ride back to the mainland.
Kingstonian Estonians group which was formed just a few years ago primarily on the initiative of Eva Eichenbaum Barnes who put an advertisement into the local English language newspapers looking for fellow Estonians. The response was overwhelming. The group is somewhat unique in that the majority of people are middle aged “second generation” (that is they left Estonia as small children or were born either in Sweden, Germany or England) and have non-Estonian background spouses. Every year has seen a few more of these people appear from somewhere where they must have been “hiding”, some probably for many years. It makes me wonder if perhaps other smaller cities might want to take note and emulate Kingstonian Estonians’ initiative.
Anyway, as usual the event was a great success and I came away with the thought in my mind that has been building in the last few years since Estonia regained independence, that it has actually become fun having an Estonian background. I find that the somewhat suffocating atmosphere of victimhood based on actual horrible personal experiences and refugee mindset focusing on the perceived need to preserve language at all costs on the part of many community leaders and some parents that plagued our childhoods and eventually caused many such as I to vote with their feet as soon as we were on our own is finally starting to fade. I am sure they meant well but the result speaks for itself notwithstanding the self congratulations that go on now whenever several hundred Canadian Estonians manage to show up for an event such as the most recent Estonian Independence Day aktus.
Many thanks to the organizers. I am already looking forward to next year.
Kingstonian Estonians Celebrate Fourth Annual Wolfe Island Picnic