The church on the hill that signifies the Schenectady landscape is holding its 28th annual Polish American Harvest Festival on Aug. 17 and 18.
Normally held in October, the Church of St. Adalbert’s parish decided to move the date of this year’s festival with the hopes that warmer weather would come their way.
This is also the second year that the celebration will return to the church grounds after a move to the Polish American Center in Albany. “Since we’ve brought it back, it seems to be more successful,” Joe Kaczynski, festival chairman, said.
“We’re using our grounds and showing off our church again; it’s something for the area to be proud of,” he said.
The brick church was built in 1911 after a fire destroyed the original building. Tours of the 195-foot-tall steepled church will be given during the festival, which was a new attraction at last year’s festival.
They are also extending the festival for two full days of celebration and entertainment. The city of Schenectady is also recognizing Polish-American Weekend, which will coincide with the festival.
This year, Kaczynski said the church is trying to mix community and congregation. On Saturday, activities will be aimed at local families, with a mix of American and Polish foods, children’s entertainment and local oldies band, The Rogues. On Sunday, after a traditional, mixed language Mass, festivities will kick off with Tony’s Polka Band. Both days, however, are all about “food, food, food.”
Parish members and volunteers began preparations in late July, rolling and mixing doughs and fillings for hungry crowds. Kaczynski said that at least 4,000 pierogi and 1,200 golumpki will be prepared from scratch, not to mention other Polish specialties like grilled kielbasa, borscht, lazanki and the parish’s own creation: “Polish pizza,” which is a traditional pizza dough layered with tomato sauce, sauerkraut, kapuska and kielbasa.
“You wouldn’t think it’s delicious but it really is,” Kaczynski said.
Parking will be available in the church’s parking lot and in an overflow lot with shuttle transportation running to and from the festival all weekend.
Besides the food and fun, the festival is all about the faith interwoven in the church’s community.
“The whole thing is centered around the church. That’s why we call it ‘Faith, Food and Culture.’ The festival is a St. Adalbert’s tradition but it’s also a Polish tradition,” Kaczynski said.
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