Unveiling Pannonia: Laura and Liz’s Hungary Pannonia Pavilion Adventure!

Have you been to the Hungary Pannonia Pavilion? If not, you should! Coordinators, Laura Benesocky and Liz Kovach’s lifelong journey with the Hungary Pannonia Pavilion unfolds as we dive deep into their rich history and experiences in an exclusive interview.



We chatted with Laura and Liz and learned about their long-standing involvement in the Hungary Pannonia Pavilion.


How did you begin your journey with Folklorama?

Laura: I began at the age of 10 years old when I moved to Winnipeg, my grandmother was very involved in the Hungarian Community and felt we could enjoy learning about our culture. After 9 years I moved away to Albert and BC, and upon my return I got involved in volunteering in other capacities which were better suited to my skill set. Eventually I worked my way through different roles, taking on more responsibilities.

Liz: My parents began their volunteer career for the Hungary Pannonia Pavilion in the early 70’s. I used to tag along and hang out in the bar with my dad (at least that’s what photos have documented lol). When I was the age of 6, my brother and I started to dance and I’ve been involved ever since.


What is it like being a Hungary Pannonia Pavilion coordinator?

Laura: I love being a Pavilion Coordinator though it can be a lot of work, it allows me to be involved in my community and share in my strengths. It fills my cultural soul and allows me to learn more about my culture. My grandmother and Liz’s mother were great friends and worked together cooking amazing dishes and now I am fortunate to work alongside Lis Jr and work on a succession plan to continue to keep our festival alive and relevant to keep our youth engaged and involved.

Liz: It’s a great opportunity to preserve culture and really bring our community together and continue the legacy that members of our families started 60+ years ago! Having the opportunity to lead the community means we can help teach and mentor younger generations to lead and ensure they do their part to pass along traditions. It is something that I have to juggle as I travel for work and have other commitments but with my years of teaching and helping to bring up young leaders to keep us moving forward, it is a natural fit and Laura and I make a great team. Her late grandmother and my mom were great, so we are keeping up the tradition with our two families.





How do you actively preserve your Hungarian heritage in Canada? 

Laura: I continue to stay a part of Folklorama and act as the VP for the Hungarian Kapisztan holding events such, fundraisers and luncheons with our executive. The Kapisztran brings in instructors from Hungary, we hold dancing and singing workshops, we host Hungarian dance festivals and continue to celebrate momentous occasions.

Liz: Language, music, cooking, song and dance are important parts of our culture and we work throughout the year to preserve each of them. We started Hungarian food days three years ago which allows the next generation in our community the opportunity to learn Hungarian cooking skills. Our dance group is very active thought the year to prepare for various performances and allows us to pass on the language which is a little more difficult.  Folklorama is one of our community’s main cornerstone events.


What are some important Hungarian traditions others may not know about?

Laura: An Important Hungarian tradition I remember fondly when moving to Winnipeg is Mikulás Hungarian children receive gifts twice during the holiday season. On the eve of St. Nicholas Feast Day, which is celebrated on December 6, they are visited by Saint Nicholas, or Mikulás. That night, children place newly polished boots on their windowsills to be filled with small presents by Mikulás and his helpers. If you’ve been good, you will wake to find a boot filled with oranges and mandarins. If you’ve been naughty, Mikulás’ sidekick Krampusz, will have left a bundle of birch sticks (virgács) instead.

Liz: There are many and I have to admit I don’t even know them all but one of my favourite ones pertains to weddings where the best man and maid of honour pull together the village in a procession to the bride-to-be’s house. The band is playing music as well. I’ve seen this replicated in Canada and it’s a really cool and fun experience as it turns out to be a folk party on the street!


What tips would you share with someone who’s never been at the Hungary Pannonia Pavilion before?

Laura: I would share that they are in for a treat with our Live Hungarian Band and the Vibrant lively Hungarian Kapisztran Folk dancers. I would also recommend that you come Hungry to Hungary Pannonia as we have an amazing variety of mouthwatering dishes both savoury and sweet, we accommodate gluten friendly and vegetarian dishes.

Liz: Definitely come join us! There aren’t any Hungarian restaurants and if you like food, it’s a must try as everything is cooked with love! Live music is incredible and Hungarian music is beautiful. It is also one of the most difficult to play. Each year we bring a live band to accompany our dancers and our group loves to perform and showcase authentic Hungarian folk dance! We add a unique experience during the festival and would love to host you all!





Thank you, Laura and Liz, for giving us the inside scoop on how you preserve Hungarian culture!