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Published: Sunday, 7/13/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Polish Festival attracts big crowd to polka, party, and eat some pierogi

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Chris Zielinski of Toledo eats kielbasa on Saturday during the Lagrange Street Polish Festival. Chris Zielinski of Toledo eats kielbasa on Saturday during the Lagrange Street Polish Festival.
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It’s about more than the food and the music.

Several people shared this impression Saturday in the crowd of several hundred attendees of the Lagrange Street Polish Festival on Lagrange Street between Central Avenue and Mettler Street in the heart of Toledo’s Polish International Village.

“We are here mostly for food and to support the community,” said Joe Rakowski, 54, a physicist from Perrysburg. “I feel happy when I come here [thanks to] the food, the music, and the people. ... We come here every year.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view slideshow.

He spoke as he took a minute from walking past a row of food stands, carrying a glass of beer in one hand and a plate of kielbasa in the other. His wife, Linda Rakowski, 58, and their son, Joseph Rakowski, 18, a 2014 graduate of Perrysburg High School, stood next to him. Both had just finished their meals of pierogi and haluski.

Mr. Rakowski, whose late grandfather came from Poland around 1910, said the food at the festival was good and that some of the stands offered authentic Polish meals.

Ron Przybylski of the Polka Zone Band works the crowd during a performance Saturday in the heart of Toledo’s Polish International Village. The Polka Zone Band opened the day’s festivities at noon before giving way to the Ted Lange Band. Ron Przybylski of the Polka Zone Band works the crowd during a performance Saturday in the heart of Toledo’s Polish International Village. The Polka Zone Band opened the day’s festivities at noon before giving way to the Ted Lange Band.
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The annual family-oriented event that started Friday and continues today features authentic Polish foods, live music, and dancing as well as a beer garden, polka demonstrations and contest, pierogi-eating contests, a trivia contest, and magic shows and crafts. Echoes of Poland dance group performs several times during the course of the three-day festival.

As the Rakowskis spoke, the Ted Lange Band performed, following the Polka Zone Band, which opened Saturday’s festivities at noon.

Polish American Concert Band will open at noon today and will be followed by Duane Malinowski Band at 2:30 p.m. and Kuszwanc Kids Band at 3:30 p.m.

Mr. Rakowski and his wife said they enjoyed the polka music, but added that they did not dance to it and did not expect to.

“We are happy,” she began.

Richard and Mary Ann Jankowski, left, of Toledo dance, as do Sarah Meyers of Ridgeville Corners and Ray Racey of Temperance, Mich., on Saturday during the Lagrange Street Polish Festival. Polish American Concert Band, Duane Malinowski Band, and Kuszwanc Kids Band are all scheduled to perform at the festival today. Richard and Mary Ann Jankowski, left, of Toledo dance, as do Sarah Meyers of Ridgeville Corners and Ray Racey of Temperance, Mich., on Saturday during the Lagrange Street Polish Festival. Polish American Concert Band, Duane Malinowski Band, and Kuszwanc Kids Band are all scheduled to perform at the festival today.
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“But we are not agile,” he finished.

Several uniformed police officers mingled with the crowds.

Police did not say whether they were present because four teenagers were shot early Saturday at Streicher and Warsaw streets in the vicinity of the festival. The incident happened about 12:20 a.m. Saturday, police said. The festival closed at 11 p.m. Friday.

Festival gates will be open from noon to 7 p.m. today. Admission is $2. Children age 8 and under are admitted free with an adult. Guests under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. For $1, a shuttle will transport festival-goers from the parking lot of Central Catholic High School to the festival grounds.

Proceeds from the festival are invested in neighborhood home renovations, central business district maintenance, and scholarships to area students.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.



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