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32nd annual Lagrange Street Polish Festival promises polka, pierogi, plentiful fun

  • CTY-polish13p-Lagrange-Street-Polish-Festival

    Between East Central Avenue and Mettler Street, five blocks of Lagrange Street will fill with food, a beer garden, continuous live polka music, a pierogi-eating contest, performances by traditional Polish dancers, arts and craft stands, and more.

    THE BLADE
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  • CTY-lagrange14p-pierogies

    6,000 pierogies were sold at last year’s festival.

    THE BLADE
    Buy This Image

CTY-polish13p-Lagrange-Street-Polish-Festival

Between East Central Avenue and Mettler Street, five blocks of Lagrange Street will fill with food, a beer garden, continuous live polka music, a pierogi-eating contest, performances by traditional Polish dancers, arts and craft stands, and more.

THE BLADE
Enlarge | Buy This Image

You’ve got less than a week to whet your appetite.

Polish food and beer will abound again at the 32nd annual Lagrange Street Polish Festival next weekend. Selling 3,000 kielbasa sandwiches and 6,000 pierogies at last year’s festival, Stanley’s Market — one of the festival’s original vendors — plans to sell even more this year.

Between East Central Avenue and Mettler Street, five block’s of Lagrange Street will fill with food, a beer garden, continuous live polka music, a pierogi-eating contest, performances by traditional Polish dancers, arts and craft stands, and more.

The festival started in 1983 when a group of local businesses decided to get together for a day of Polish festivities. What began as a small, one-day festival has grown into a three-day event, now the largest street festival in northwest Ohio.

New to the festival this year are two craft beer tastings, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Each tasting will feature different breweries such as Maumee Bay, Goose Island, Saugatuck, Sweetwater, Redhook, Blue Point, and more, said Brian Ludwig, director of special events at Treu House of Munch, Inc., a beer distributor for the festival. "Of course, we will also be having the Polish Stawski beer available all weekend."

The historic Ohio Theatre will also be open for tours and entertainment after nearly $1.5 million in renovations and improvements.

Attendees will also be able to enjoy a new park at the corner of Lagrange and Everett streets. The park is a work in process by young men who are a part of a Community Integration and Training for Employment (CITE) program. 

On Thursday, the park will be dedicated to Beth Lewandowski, a woman who was very active with the Polish community and who gave much of her time to improve the quality of life for residents, said Charlie Johnson, Program Manager for CITE.

CTY-lagrange14p-pierogies

6,000 pierogies were sold at last year’s festival.

THE BLADE
Enlarge | Buy This Image

While the festival celebrates the strong Polish heritage in Toledo, it is also a chance for people throughout the community, from all cultures, to come out and enjoy the food and fun.

"Where else can you walk down the street with a cup of beer in one hand and a kielbasa in the other while watching a great street performer?" said Terry Glazer, CEO of United North, the organization in charge of the festival.

One of the many different festivals happening this summer, Lagrange is among the few held right in the street, said Mr. Glazer. Being on the street gives people a chance to bump into one another and really appreciate the neighborhood's homes and business, he added.

Though the festival has attained regional acclaim, its focus is still local. All proceeds are invested back into the neighborhood through home renovations, business district maintenance, and scholarships to area students. This year, the festival will honor Ariel Morris, a student from the neighborhood whose community service hours earned her a $3,000 scholarship.

"There have been hundreds of homes that we have provided free exterior paint and landscaping to," said Mr. Glazer, explaining also that the festival is United North's biggest fund-raiser to help develop the Polish community in Toledo. The festival usually brings in around $30,000 for United North. This year, Mr. Glazer said, they hope to bring in even more.

"We do whatever it takes to help improve the neighborhood," he added.

For many people, it’s all about returning to the old neighborhood.

Connie Stanford, who worked as the athletic director at Woodward High School for 38 years, said she loves volunteering because she gets the chance to see former Woodward students and other familiar faces who return to the neighborhood for a day or two. "I wouldn't miss it for anything," she said.

Mrs. Stanford will be in charge of the reunion section of the festival, where yearbooks from Woodward, Scott, Central Catholic, Macomber, and Whitney high schools will be available to browse.

"The neighborhood is our home" said Joe Zychowicz, owner of Stanley's Market. "At the festival, we get to show it off."

Contact Jillian Kravatz at jkravatz@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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