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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

Schenectady festival this Sunday celebrates our Polish heritage

Schenectady festival this Sunday celebrates our Polish heritage

If you’ve been hankering for Polish pizza but haven’t been able to find it at the traditional take-o
Schenectady festival this Sunday celebrates our Polish heritage
Sister Bernadette Filter, left, and Joan Poteralski-George prepare Polish Galumpkis or cabbage rolls at FDR School on Lansing Street in Schenectady in preparation for the 1st Polish Harvest Day at Church of St. Adalbert Saturday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

If you’ve been hankering for Polish pizza but haven’t been able to find it at the traditional take-out joints, don’t miss Sunday’s Polish Harvest Festival at the Church of St. Adalbert.

Featured along with a plethora of other Polish delicacies will be pies loaded with sauce, cheese, kielbasa and sauerkraut, served up with a hearty side of Polish heritage.

The festival will showcase Polish culture with food, music, dancing, crafts, folk and history exhibits, and tours of the historic neo-Gothic church, which was built in 1911 to serve Schenectady’s growing Polish community after the original structure, built in 1903, was destroyed by fire.

“If you just look at the stained glass windows and all of the mahogany and stuff, it’s amazing,” said festival chairman Joe Kaczynski, who noted that during the 1920s and 1930s, Schenectady had the third-largest Polish population in the state.

“St. Adalbert’s is the focal point for the Polish people,” he said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy has declared Sunday as Polish Day in Schenectady, to help draw attention to the contributions the Polish community has made to the city.

Harvest Festival

WHERE: Church of St. Adalbert, 550 Lansing St.

WHEN: Sunday

COST: Free

WEATHER: Rain or shine

PARKING: In the lot at St. Adalbert’s Church; in the lot of the former Marcella’s Appliance store, 735 Crane St.; and in the Metroplex garage on Broadway, where a shuttle service will run.

SCHEDULE

10:30 a.m.: Harvest Mass

Noon: Harvest wreath blessing; booths open

Noon to 6 p.m.: Polish dinner served; no reservations required

1 p.m.: Dancing with Figiel Brothers Band, The Rogues and a DJ

2 to 3 p.m.: Pierogi-eating contest

Hourly: Church tours and organ recital

Throughout: Craft fair and children’s activities

“It’s good people, good food and good entertainment,” he said of the festival, “and it just shows the ethnic diversity of the city, which really makes it a great place to live.”

The festival has returned to the church grounds after being held for several years at a local Polish community center. Activities will be held outside the church under a large tent, as well as in the church hall.

Volunteers have been hard at work making homemade food for the event.

“Most of the people, they’re getting older, and some of those ladies, they’re in their 80s, and boy can they turn [the food] out,” said Kaczynski.

More than 4,000 pierogies have been stuffed and about 1,000 cabbage rolls — called golabki — have been crafted. There will also be plenty of kielbasa, sauerkraut, potato pancakes and, of course, Polish pizza.

The pierogies — dough dumplings stuffed with farmer’s cheese or sauerkraut — might be gobbled up faster than usual this year thanks to a new festival feature — a pierogi-eating contest. For a fee, contestants will down as many dumplings as they can in a set time period.

At 1 p.m., the music and dancing will begin. The Figiel Brothers Band will belt out polkas, and The Rogues, a rock band, will play golden oldies. When the bands aren’t on stage, a disc jockey will spin Polish tunes.

“It’s a crowd that dances,” assured George Sykala, a member of The Rogues. “You’d think those old Polish people can’t do anything. They can move pretty good.”

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