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EANC members at LEP 2017 with Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas (Ülle Ederma, Matti Prima, Mai-Liis Bartling, Eric Suuberg, Gilda Karu, PM Rattas, Arne Kalm). Not in picture: Mati Otsmaa.

 

During Labor Day Weekend, the 33rd Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad (LEP), The West Coast Estonian Days, hosted by the Los Angeles Estonians had a healthy representation of members from the Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikdes (“ERKÜ” or the Estonian American National Council “EANC”); all of whom attended on their own account to support the regional celebration of Estonian Culture.

 

This year’s LEP was led by long time LA resident Uve Sillat together with Renee Meriste, who came to the city from Tallinn just eleven years ago. They and their team arranged and planned a rousing event with some 600 attendees, performers, and participants with notable EANC participation from West Coast EANC representatives: Mai-Liis Bartling, who gave an inspiring speech at the opening Gala, Arne Kalm, who moderated numerous panel discussions including Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas’ discussion on Estonia’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, and Mati Otsmaa’s reconnection with the Puus Brothers Band on the keyboard. Los Angeles-based Advanced Nutrients directed by its CEO, Michael Straumietus who is of Estonian descent, was a major sponsor of this event.

 

LEP began on August 31st on UCLA’s beautiful campus in Westwood and closed on September 4, 2017, at the Eesti Maja (Estonian House) in downtown Los Angeles. Though the majority in attendance came from the West Coast Estonian Associations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, Canada, there were over 60 performers, singers, dancers and presenters who came from Estonia with the support of various local Estonian organizations and government agencies. Travelers, as well as other participants, of Estonian heritage came from various parts of the United States, Canada, Europe and even New Zealand. The event’s non-stop programming included panel discussions on Estonian Companies going Global, Estonian achievements in Hollywood and Film, Alternative Medicinal Opportunities along with various singing, musical and theatrical performances ranging  from jazz, rock, opera and traditional folk songs. Included in all of the scheduling was the Folk Festival which not only gave time for fellowship and camaraderie, it gave us exhilarating folk dancing and motivating songs that included Estonia’s Marek Sadam singing his song “Eesti Naine” (Estonian Woman) with the addition of a humorous twist.

 

Despite the uncommon weather of 100 + degrees (37+ Celsius), everyone left with renewed friendships, newly formed relationships, and were inspired and motivated by all of the folk dancing, singing and the highly interactive presentations.

 

Byline: Matti Prima,

ERKÜ Treasurer

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