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Published: Friday, 7/11/2003

A tasty celebration of Polish traditions

Pierogies, polka, and other Polish passions and pastimes will fill this weekend at the 20th annual Lagrange Street Polish Festival.

The three-day event celebrates the area's Eastern European roots, and this year has an added bonus for folks interested in news of the old country: Several high school students from Poznan, Poland, will be on hand to talk, in Polish or English, to festival-goers.

The festival starts today at 5 p.m. with a march through the neighborhood.

A few contests will take place during the weekend. Polka dance competitions for amateurs and seniors start at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. A pierogi eating match begins at 5:50 p.m. Saturday. In the latter, which costs $10 to enter, contestants must down as many boiled, pan-fried potato pierogies as humanly possible in 150 seconds. Winners of the dance and food contests will receive a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

Indeed, food is always an important part of the Polish festival, and some 20 food booths will sell snacks to the hungry. Shoppers will have about 20 craft booths to browse as well.

Other highlights include the Echoes of Poland dancers, who perform at 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; children's rides and games; and music. Bike Day for motorcycles is 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Festival organizers expect about 60,000 people to attend over the festival's three days.

The Lagrange Street Polish Festival starts today at 5 p.m., with hours until 10 tonight, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Location is Lagrange Street between Central Avenue and Mettler Street. Parking is available at Central Catholic High School, 2550 Cherry St., with TARTA providing shuttle service for a $1 round-trip fee.

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