SCHENECTADY — Onions, pork, cabbage and sauerkraut all were in the mix Thursday at the Church of St. Adalbert.
"This is a process," said Carolyn Kozubal, of Albany, as she and her friends prepared the popular food "golabki" inside the church parish center.
"Cabbage has to be cooked first, then the leaves separated. Then we need to mix the meat, the onions, eggs, spices and then we roll them," Kozubal said.
Finished golabki rolls were placed in long, lightweight and deep aluminum baking pans before being transferred to ovens for two hours of baking.
Kozubal and her teammates had made about 1,000 of the rolls and know they will sell quickly at Sunday's annual "Dozynki" — the church's annual Polish harvest festival.
"They love the food; they don't care about anything else but the food," Kozubal said. "And they love visiting St. Adalbert's. It's a tradition. We have many people who return, who live out of town. They want a taste of Poland."
The party at the parish center, located at 550 Lansing St., will also give people a chance to eat "pierogi," "kielbasa," "lazanki" (noodles and sauerkraut), Polish pizza (topped with sauerkraut and kielbasa), the Polish stew "kapusta" and "barszcz" (beet soup).
The festival will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a harvest mass inside the church. A Polish opening-welcoming ceremony will also be held.
This year, host and hostess Narcyz and Zofia Drzymalski will greet guests with bread, so they may have the necessities of life; salt, so they may have these things forever; and wine, so they will have sweetness in their lives.
There will be other attractions:
- Polish music and Polish pastries.
- A Polish kitchen, children's games and "Grandma's attic" rummage sale will take place from noon to 5 p.m.
- The Rymanowski Brothers Orchestra will play from 3 to 7 p.m. The third-floor kitchen and bar will be open during the same hours.
- Phyllis Budka will help trace the genealogy of parish residents and their friends.
- Church tours will be available.
- A Pittsburgh-based vendor of Polish artifacts will be at the festival.
- The annual parish raffle drawing will be held - $1,000 is the grand prize.
Parking will be available in the church parking lot and on nearby Lansing and Crane streets.
Dozynki is a time to socialize.
"It's a chance for the parish to come together, and to raise funds for the church," said Rev. Carl Urban, the retired pastor. "My favorite part is the baked goods; they're tremendous."
Urban noted the foods come from a Polish bakery in New York City.
"And just to see the people come from a distance," Urban added. "They used to be in the area; they travel from all over — Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts. It's the homecoming aspect of it all."
Mark Leszczynski, co-chair of the festival with George Sykala, expects a large turnout Sunday because the festival is returning to the parish center for the second year in a row.
For several years, the center was rented to the Schenectady City School District, which used it for classes. The festival was held outside the center during the summer in some years and was held at the Polish Community Center in Albany other years.
The word is out that the festival is back "home," Leszczynski said, and people like the atmosphere around the landmark church off Crane Street.
Kozubal said the location has boosted the festival workforce, since some older church members did not like traveling to Albany for the Dozynki.
"They like being close to home," she said.
"It's been great teamwork this year," added Sykala.
Forty people have worked on this year's event, including Donna and Richard Joachim, Patti Sykala and Barbara Nebb.
Nebb was rolling cabbage leaves for the golabki on Thursday.
"It's easy, if you have the big leaves," said Nebb, who lives in Rexford. "The bigger the leaf, the quicker it goes."
The festival is the church's major fundraiser of the year. Dozynki volunteers say the party is the only Polish festival in Schenectady, and it's also a chance to kid around with Italian friends — three Italian church festivals are held during the summer — about which culture has the best food.
For others, faith and heritage are the main talking points.
"I love the preservation of my Polish heritage and tradition," said Helen Saunders, of Schenectady. "I'm a transplant from St. Mary's, Schenectady's first Polish parish, which closed in 2009. I never expected to be welcomed with so much encouragement, warmth, support or to have so much fun."