Polish Pride Alive and Thriving On Fest’s 40th Anniversary
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
August 10, 2023
ROCKFORD—If one thing brings a smile to Dan Jaworowski’s face, it’s talking about his Polish heritage. This year, he has even more to smile about as a co-chairperson of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish’s 40th annual Polish Fest. 
“Celebrating our culture, food, fellowship and faith are at the heart and soul of what makes Polish Fest such a special event,” Jaworowski said. 
This year’s Polish Fest is Aug. 13, on the grounds of St. Stanislaus Parish, 201 Buckbee St., and kicks off with Mass at 10 a.m., followed by live music, Polish dancing, traditional foods, a bake sale, games, raffles, and a Polish cultural exhibit.
The first Polish Fest was held in 1982 under Father Denis Janicki’s direction; through the years, funds generated from the event have been used for parish capital improvements and need-based scholarships. 
“2023 would technically be the 41st year of Polish Fest, but since we didn’t have the Fest in 2020 due to COVID-19, we are celebrating 40 years in 2023,” Jaworowski said. “This year, we plan on using money raised from Polish Fest for a new parking lot.”
Polish Fest has grown and evolved in the past 40 years from a simple outdoor festival to a major cultural gathering that draws people from all ethnic backgrounds. 
Historically the neighborhood surrounding St. Stanislaus was home to many Polish immigrants. “Our parish is situated in the ‘Polish Triangle’ bordered by the Rock River, Catherine St., Seminary St., and 15th Ave.,” Jaworowski said. “While many parishioners lived in this area decades ago, there has been a shift in the population, which reinforces Polish Fest as a way to gather our parish family and welcome all in our neighborhood and community.”
That welcoming spirit, Jaworowski said, is a primary focus of Father Zdzislaw Francis Wawryszuk, pastor of St. Stanislaus. “Father Francis is newly appointed to our parish and this will be his first Polish Fest. He wants to grow our church through a new ambitious agenda and sees a successful Polish Fest as the first step in that direction.”
The food and entertainment at Polish Fest are indeed a feast for the senses. 
“There will be fresh Polish sausage, smoked Polish sausage, Polish beef, hot dogs, potato pancakes, fresh pierogies (Polish dumplings) and ice cream available for purchase,” Jaworowski said. “Frozen pierogies and assorted Polish baked goods and bread will also be sold for carryout.”
Volunteers from the parish made 19,000 pierogies for Polish Fest in various flavors. “We will have sweet cheese, meat, sauerkraut, and potato pierogies,” Jaworowski said. “It took five freezers to store the pierogies before Polish Fest and many volunteers to prepare these delicacies.” 
Father Wawryszuk contributed to the pierogi effort by making a stolnica, a wooden Polish kneading board used to make the dumplings. 
Tymon Kuziora, Oliver Wysocki and Jakub Kuziora helped pack the pierogies prior to Polish Fest. The boys agreed on the importance of preserving their Polish heritage. 
“It’s really interesting to learn about Polish history and how the foods are different than American foods,” said Wysocki. “Helping out at Polish Fest brings the community together and enables us to share our culture with others who don’t know about our heritage,” Tymon said. “It’s important to keep our history alive and see our traditions passed down to our peers, the younger generation,” Jakub added.
Polish Fest will have live music and dancing provided by the Syrena Polish Dance Ensemble from Milwaukee and the International Polish Association tribute band from Chicago.
For more information on Polish Fest, visit www.st-stanislaus.org
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