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What you need to know for 10/19/2017

Schenectady's St. Adalbert celebrates Polish culture

Schenectady's St. Adalbert celebrates Polish culture

By 3 p.m. Sunday, Phyllis Weaver was almost out of baked goods to sell.
Schenectady's St. Adalbert celebrates Polish culture
Nicole Hudson, 2, of Rotterdam, wears a traditional polish Krakowianka in her hair at the Church of St. Adalbert 29th annual Polish American Harvest Festival. Mom Crystal Macejka holds her. Brother Jason Macejka is left.
Photographer: Stacey Lauren-Kennedy

By 3 p.m. Sunday, Phyllis Weaver was almost out of baked goods to sell.

The Rotterdam resident was in charge of selling bread and sweets at the Polish American Harvest Festival outside of the St. Adalbert Church.

“We have sold a lot of goods today,” she said. “It’s great that we can raise so much money.”

Parishioners had donated a wide variety of baked goods, Weaver said, so any money the bake sale generated was profit for the church.

But people at the festival weren’t only stuffing their faces with cakes and pies. About 100 people were seated under a tent eating pierogi and drinking beer while listening to polka music.

James Gulneck of Schenectady said he loves to listen to the live music. He added that the food wasn’t too bad either.

“The food is really good,” said Gulneck, who had just finished a slice of Polish pizza. “It’s pretty great that you can listen to great music and eat good food — what could be better?”

Sunday was the second part of the 29th annual two-day festival. The third weekend in August was declared Polish weekend by the Schenectady City Council.

Joe Kaczynski, the chairman of the festival, was thrilled with the turnout and said everyone he had spoken with was having a great time.

“People seem to be thrilled to be here,” he said. “Its been a really great weekend.”

The influx of Polish immigrants to the Capital Region has slowed to a trickle since the 1940s and 1950s, Kaczynski said. The days when Polish people came to work in local factories are over, he added.

“Now the Polish people that do come here are highly skilled and most are very well-educated,” he said. “A lot come to do research at the General Electric plant.”

The deacon of the St. Adalbert Church, Joe Cechnicki, said fewer and fewer people have been attending service on Sundays. Typically around 250 people show up, he said. But nearly 30 years ago the attendance was nearly double that figure. Cechnicki added that fewer people attending houses of worship is a trend all over the country.

In 1920, Schenectady had the third-largest Polish population in the state, according to Kaczynski. He was unsure how the city ranks now but doesn’t believe it is that high.

Kaczynksi said the Polish people still living in the area enjoy keeping traditions alive. The festival provide an opportunity to do that, he said.

“We have sold around 4,200 pierogis, we are sold out of spinach rolls,” he said. “So people are really enjoying the cultural food we have to offer.”

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