Autor: Eva Orlowska
From a small town in Western Washington and the City of Roses in Oregon to the metropolis of British Columbia, thousands come to celebrate Polish heritage in the Pacific Northwest.
Over 15,000 people attended last year’s Polish Festival in Portland, Oregon. This year on September 25-26, Marek Stepien, the festival coordinator, expects a turnout of over 20,000 for the 15th anniversary of the largest Polish Festival in Western United States. To add to local entertainment (Agnieszka Laska Dancers, Kazmierowicz family country music Fireside Six band, Sobotka dancers and others), performers will come from Seattle (Vivat Musica Choir and Mlodzi Polanie), Vancouver, B.C. (Polonez Dance Group), Kelowna, Canada (White Eagles) and Stalowa Wola, Poland (Lasowiacy). Over 300 volunteers are already scrambling. Cabbage rolls, bigos and poppy seed cake preparation parties are underway. Chefs have ordered 15,000 pierogis and imported 6,000 bottles of Polish beers and wines. Polka dance contestants began practicing. Special exhibits on the city of Torun, Poland, the birthplace of astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, and Street Dance with Polka Beats and Chervona Band on the grounds of the Polish Library and St. Stanislaus Church are planned. The sponsors include Kaiser Permanente Health Research, Grandpa’s Polish Café, Koffeehouse Kraków, Shilo Inns Suite Hotels, McMenamins Pubs and Breweries, Palms Motels and many others.
This weekend, September 11-12, a traditional Polish Harvest Festival, Dozynki, in Vancouver, B.C. will open up with a soccer tournament of Polish soccer teams from Canada and Seattle. Polish, Gypsy, Flamingo and Polynesian performers will blend Polish with local culture. The Zgoda Polish Friendship Society expects the youth concerts, belly dancers, theater performances and disco DJ Citko to draw a large crowd of young Poles, Canadians and Americans from across the border.
New generations celebrate Polish Festivals
Even in a small town in Western Washington that boasts a population of 657 (census 2000), Polish culture lives. Pe Ell, once known as the “Polish town” where Polish settlers came to work in the sawmills and logging camps, was already celebrating the May 3rd Constitution in 1891. Today Pe Ell residents put on Polish dinners with entertainment at Pe Ell School, promote history books about Pe Ell’s Polish Pioneers and Polish Heritage, arrange book tours and book signings by their proud son, Leo Kowalski. On August 7-8, Pe Ell celebrated its third Polish Daze.
The Polish community in Seattle organizes three large Polish Festivals per year: All-You-Can-Eat Pierogi Fest in the spring and two holiday Polish Home Bazaars before Easter and Christmas.