Polish Fest Means Food, Fun, Friends
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
August 24, 2017

ROCKFORD—Cozy people, delicious food, beautiful dances, remarkable traditions, lively bands, and much more are what Polish Fest is about, on the grounds of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, here.
This year’s festival was the 36th.

It is an event where families, adults and young people, participate to enjoy the cultural values of Polish heritage.

“We got married in this church. It is a family tradition to come. My cousins come, too,” said Connie Dawson, “It’s my Mom’s 88th birthday. My brothers came from California, my niece from Nevada.”

Some festival-goers, especially those from Poland or with ties to the culture, wear white and red colors, honoring the Polish flag.

But everyone isn’t Polish. There is diversity among the participants.

Cecilia Madero, from Mexico, said she “enjoyed with the family, pierogi and Polish sausage.”

Or Denesha Flowers, who wore an African head covering, who said, “I saw it advertised and ... my coworker ... let me know about it and invited me, so here I am.” She ate pierogi, potato pancakes, desserts, and other foods.

“The concept of pierogi is similar to empanadas, a traditional sidedish with diverse recipes in Latin-American countries,” said Mario López, a Hispanic festival-goer. “They kind of have the same shape, even though the Polish eat them with silverware. Usually it is a finger food for us.”

Pierogi are dumplings made of flour, filled with different types of ingredients, and boiled in water. At the festival, they were sold filled with potato, meat, cheese or sauerkraut.

Dance styles passed from generation to generation are part of the fest.

“We are wearing costumes from the Krakowiak, a southern Poland region. (It’s) probably the most popular dancing and dress from Poland,” said Damien Domyslawski, one of the young dancers.

With activities for all ages and tastes, youngsters enjoyed games and inflatables, while others, especially adults, went to the basement of the school to taste the dinner.

In the cultural expo, on the second floor of the school, were unique and traditional elements representing Polish culture. Items ranged from a Bible dated “more than 100 years ago,” according to information in the exhibition, to images of Our Lady and saints such as Pope John Paul II.

Other displays featured dolls wearing typical Polish dress,  Christmas decorations, and miscellaneous items with interesting and curious stories. Many have been donated by parish families to the exhibition.

In the basement of the church, people found delicious desserts and played bingo.

The festival started with a Mass at 10 a.m., followed by a variety of activities and was scheduled to end at 8 p.m.

“People know what to expect, so they come for what they know,” said Father Mieczyslaw Wit, OFM Conv., pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka.

“Our community is diverse,” he continued, “so, on Sundays we have one Mass in Polish and one Mass in English.”