This past weekend Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids played host to the 50th annual Polish Heritage Festival, celebrating the families and heritage of the Polish immigrants who found a place to call home here in West Michigan. This year’s event was packed full of events for folks of all ages with bands, dancing, Polish food, bean bag games, face painting and story telling for the kids and every adult’s favorite, beer of both local and macro labels.
Jared Kozal led off each days’ festivities singing both the Hejnal and National Anthems, bringing tears to the eyes of many in the crowd, possibly including yours truly. The former Monroe Mall was filled with the sounds by the likes of Fred Zarecki, Pan Franek & the Polka Towners, The Ray Watkowski Family Band, Gerry Kaminski’s Polka Network and The DiddleStyx to finish it off on Sunday right before the PHS Polish Busia Pageant.
Each day including a Polish cooking demo, with the focus on potato pancakes, czernina, pierogis and kapusta.
On hand creating the wonderful smells permeating downtown’s condos were Varsovia Catering and That Polish Girl Catering. Sauerkraut and golumbki lovers did their best to get to both booths, but after the far too many near-buckling plate incidents due to the amount of food on the Tour of Poland and Polish Girl Plates, respectively, most were too stuffed after the first round of Busia’s best to go back and try the other’s main dish. No one, though, seemed to have a problem making room for some crepes from Varsovia or the Death by Chocolate brownies Laurie Szczepanek’s crew keeps the folks happy with. Guilty. If that weren’t enough, Pinkie’s Ice Cream was on hand, as well.
The Polka Pops radio show was in attendance on Saturday to broadcast live from Rosa Parks Circle, taking their weekly noon-3pm show out on the road. Tune into the show locally on 94.9fm.