It was a Sunday in the summer of 1983 when residents of Toledo’s Polish Village took to the neighborhood’s streets for the first time to celebrate their community.
With a trailer for a stage, a young congressman named Marcy Kaptur officiated the street fair as a handful of vendors served up ethnic Polish food and drinks to visitors. In that moment, the Lagrange Street Polish Festival was born.
Thirty years later, the event sponsored by United North attracts more than 20,000 visitors from near and far who converge to celebrate the local Polish community and culture.
“This says the people love celebrating the ethnicity in Toledo,” said Linda Detrick-Jaegly, chairman of the festival. “It doesn’t matter the ethnicity, Toledoans turn out.”
This year’s festival will be Friday through Sunday on Lagrange Street between Central Avenue and Mettler Street, in the neighborhood’s business district.
To celebrate the 30th year, the festival committee has partnered with the Ohio Theatre to offer discounted admission to the theater’s presentation of the Polish play Hunting Cockroaches, performed by the Glacity Theatre Collective. Theater tickets will be discounted $4 for guests who have a festival admission wristband.
In addition, an anniversary Trivia Treasure Hunt is planned. Participants will answer 30 Polish and festival trivia questions to compete for prizes and gift cards. Answers can be found on discs scattered throughout the festival grounds and answer sheets will be available at admission and information booths.
Reunion tents, where old friends reacquaint themselves will be set up and, as always, proceeds from the event will benefit the Polish Village area.
“Every dime of profit is invested right back into our neighborhood,” Mrs. Detrick-Jaegly said. “Whether it’s home improvements, business district maintenance and cleanup or scholarships, it all goes right back into the community.”
Other returning traditions include the amateur polka dance contest at 6 p.m. Saturday and the popular pierogi eating contest will be at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) will be on-site to present a $3,000 scholarship to DeMarkus Darrington, a scholar and athlete at Woodward High School who plans to pursue a degree in engineering studies at the Ohio State University. The annual scholarship has been renamed the Martin Blaszczyk Memorial Scholarship, in honor of Marty Blaszczyk, long-time editor of the Lagrange Street News, who died this spring.
Other festival highlights include a children’s area with arts and crafts, face painting, and live entertainment. In addition, there will be carnival rides, caricatures, glass art, and a variety of Polish food.
The festival entrance will be at Lagrange Street at Central Avenue. Admission is $4 Friday and Saturday and $2 on Sunday. Children 8 and under are admitted free. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Festival gates are open from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: email@example.com or 419-724-6133.