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Latham PolishFest

Latham’s 15th Annual PolishFest
A Jam-Packed 3-day Celebration of Polish and Polish American Culture!

For the 15th time, PolishFest returns to Latham, NY from Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4, 2017. Every year PolishFest brings an eclectic sampling of Polish and Polish-American food, music, art and history to the Capital District. While there will be plenty of hot Polka music, dancing and pierogi, PolishFest goes beyond expectations and offers a wide-ranging selection of Polish and other Eastern European culture.

Where: PolishFest is hosted by the Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestochowa church, located at 250 Old Maxwell Road, Latham, NY. 

Admission: Admission is $5, with a $1 discount for Price Chopper Advantage Card holders. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free. Seniors 62 years old and up are admitted for free on Sunday, June 4. 

Food: For many people, PolishFest is all about the food! From our gourmet pierogi bar, to our Polish Platter, to our a la carte food offerings (kielbasa, golabki, kapusta, borsht, potato pancakes, haluski, and more!), PolishFest will give you many ways to enjoy Polish cuisine! Chester’s Smokehouse and the Euro Deli are supplying the items not made on site. You can even get a slice of the famous PolishFest Pizza (pagacz) at the bar, with an imported Polish beer. Authentic Polish dessert crepes, cheese cakes, and confections are the perfect way to finish a meal.

Here are just some of the delectable statistics:

18,000 pierogi in 10 different varieties
3,500 golabki (fresh – never frozen)
3,000 potato pancakes from Poland
2,600 links of kielbasa being made especially for PolishFest
1,500 stuffed peppers
100 cases of imported Polish beer (Żywiec, Warka, Tatra, and Radlers)

Music and Dance: PolishFest will be showcasing many genres this year. 

The Polka headliners are Tony’s Polka Band (Saturday, June 3) and the Rymanowski Brothers (Sunday, June 4). Bring your dancing shoes! Did you know that Polka dancing burns over 500 calories an hour? 
St. Adalbert’s Dancers and the BVMC Dancers will be performing Polish folk dances and fancy polka moves on Sunday, June 4.
The Disco Polo dance band, Sygnal, will be performing Saturday, June 3. Disco Polo rose in popularity as Polish “street music” in the heady days after the fall of Communism. It takes traditional folk melodies and subject matters and applies a modern dance beat – it is a musical May December marriage that will get you on the dance floor at PolishFest.
Eric Marczak, local Polish-American luthier, will be exhibiting his gorgeous handmade musical instruments and Harry George Pellegrin will be playing a Marczak guitar in a classical guitar concert on Friday, June 2. 
There will be a Chopin Piano Concert showcasing the winners of the 2016 Capital District Council for Young Musicians (CDCYM) Chopin Piano Competition Winners on Saturday, June 3.
On Sunday, June 4, The Bravo Strings, a Saratoga Springs based youth performance group, will perform a concert of Slavic Folk Music. Expect to see strolling violins throughout the day on Sunday.
Stanley Chepaitis will be discussing and demonstrating Lithuanian folk song tradition called Sutartines (which is Lithuanian for “to be in accord”) on Sunday, June 4. Using video excerpts from a UN video about the resurgence of this tradition in Lithuania and also video excerpts from the concert performance by his quartet performing one of these folk songs.  
Are you ready to funk up your playlist? On Saturday, June 3, Slavic culture writer, Kat Alberti, will introduce you to six Polish Electronica Artists who were the subject of a list she compiled for the Culture.PL web site.

PolishFest Book Club: Grab your e-readers or your reading glasses, because PolishFest is featuring three books that will give you a fresh perspective on current events! Read together, the three selections (a thriller, an extensively researched non-fiction historical account, and a memoir) provide a broad understanding of what it is like to be a forced laborer and refugee in times of war and the resilience of immigrant survivors.

The Amber, by Barbara Chepaitis: The Amber is thriller, a love story, and a historical odyssey spanning centuries, featuring ancient Lithuanian lore and a haunted violin. On Sunday only, Stanley Chepaitis joins the author to present on the Lithuanian folk song tradition called Sutartines. Barbara Chepaitis earned her doctorate in composition & teaches at a university in upstate New York, where she makes her home. She is the author of a futuristic suspense series, thrillers, and non-fiction. In her own words, “My biography, using one piece of paper, would be a drawing of a tree, with roots reaching down through the darkest part of the earth toward its molten core, and branches straining toward the stars. Birds, a few monkeys, a jaguar, and a million fireflies would populate the branches hung with all kinds of fruit and flowers. And it would be a big tree. Very big indeed. Big as a soul.”
Wearing the Letter P: Polish Women as Forced Laborers in Nazi Germany, 1939-1945, by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab: Required to sew a large letter "P" onto their jackets, thousands of women were taken from their homes in Poland and forced to work for the Reich across Germany for months and years on end. Compelled to learn more about her mother's experience and that of other Polish women, Knab began a personal and emotional quest. Over the course of 14 years, she conducted extensive research of postwar trial testimonies housed in archives in the U.S., London, and in Warsaw to piece together facts and individual stories from this singular and often-overlooked aspect of World War II history.
A Homeland Denied: In the Footsteps of a Polish POW, by Irena Kossakowski: This book follows the horrific journey of Waclaw Kossakowski from imprisonment in the notorious Kozelsk prison to the forced labor camp in the Siberian Arctic Circle, to the blistering dry deserts of the Middle East, where the student, who had never picked up a gun, was taught to fight. Waclaw fought in the Italian campaign, at Monte Cassino, Ancona and Bologna. This dramatic and poignant story is recounted in vivid detail and documents a tragic period in the history of the Polish people in Europe, but is ultimately a story of hope, love and survival dramatized with many colorful illustrations.
History and Culture: Our workshops and lectures are a wonderful place to learn more about Polish history – and your own personal history. Here is just a sampling of what PolishFest has to offer this year:
Genealogy Workshops: Local genealogist, John Szypulski, will lead a seminar reviewing internet databases and resources, and other sources and methods for researching your Polish ancestry. The focus this year will be on the importance of diacritical marks. John will assist people with finding the correct Polish spelling of the names in family histories and use the spelling to search the Geneteka.pl database.  
Cooking Demonstrations: Laura & Pete Zeranski are a husband-and-wife team that has been cooking and eating classic Polish food together for almost forty years. Learn to make classic Polish recipes with Laura and Pete. Buy their cook books in the Vendor Hall!
Women of the Warsaw Uprising: All the way from the UK, Polish-British history blogger, Alina Nowobliska, is coming to present a history of the brave women who were part of the tragic Warsaw Uprising during WWII.
Oh! The Horror! Polish Horror Movies Under Communism: Kat Alberti presents a talk on an article she translated from Russian for the Culture.PL web site. Drawing on work by Vladimir Gromov, Kat will discuss the most interesting Polish horror films, those made during Poland’s time under the communist regime. The horror films made in Poland under communism were devoid of the usual clichés of the genre and therefore Polish horror movies from this period stand out as uniquely terrifying!
Slovak Hand-Craft Demonstrations: David and Zuzana Lundeen will demonstrate Oplatki making and Slovak Easter egg decorating at PolishFest. Their Oplatki and Easter Eggs will be available for purchase.
Thaddeus Kosciusko Historical Exhibit: Local history student, Sara Zlotnik, will bring Thaddeus Kosciusko to life. Sara works at the Saratoga Battlefield National Park, where Kosciusko’s brilliant battle strategy turned the American Revolution around. 
Vendor Hall: The PolishFest vendor hall is full of hard-to-find imported Polish and Slavic gifts. From Polish Pottery to Baltic Amber Jewelry to Wood Carvings, there are many items that cannot be found elsewhere in the Capital District. There are also T-Shirts, Books, Sports Jerseys and many other items available for purchase.

Children’s Activities: PolishFest is a great place for kids of all ages. Kids 12 and under are admitted for free and children’s activities at the festival are free of charge. Here is a selection of what kids can do at PolishFest:
Bouncey House
Obstacle Course
Sean the Magician
Tom the Terrific Balloon Man
Otto the Auto
Face Painting
For more information, go to www.polishfest-ny.org, or follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PolishFestNY
Looking for treble? 
This space reserved for photos and videos of PolishFestNY
Friday, June 2, 2017 Day 1
PolishFest is a wonderful event: great food, Polish cultural seminars and celebrations, friendly people and inspiring music. There was so much to enjoy, but I think the highlight of the evening in my opinion was having the opportunity to meet luthier Eric Marczak and classical guitarist Harry George Pellegrin. Eric makes what I have heard some speculate are the best guitars ever crafted. He also makes and plays a large variety of flutes capable of producing some of the most beautiful and relaxing music ever produced. Harry Pellegrin is probably the best classical guitarist I have ever heard. Works are not adequate to describe the purity and beauty of his music. If that weren't enough, both musicians related very moving personal stories revealing the genesis of their art. I found each performance to be very comforting and therapeutic in light of these troubled times. You will enjoy viewing my videos featuring their music once they are completed later in the week.
Dragonfly back
Devil's violin
Jan Styka original painting of a character from the novel Quo Vadis.
The works of Zofia Styka (Jan Styka's daughter) are included in the collection.
Kosciuszko Exhibit and Presentation
Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Day 2 Afternoon
Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestochowa is a comparatively small parish, yet their Polish festival is one of the best I have attended. Today I had a chance to listen to Sygnal, an excellent disco polo band. There will be polka tonight and tomorrow.

I also attended two lectures this afternoon: the first by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab who talked about her latest book, "Wearing the Letter P"; and Irena Kossakowski Clarke who discussed her book, "A Homeland Denied" [www.ahomelanddenied.com]. Their stories, and others like them, are heart wrenching indeed, yet we must listen so we can tell our children. 

And then there was the Chopin concert featuring the winners of the 2016 Chopin Piano Competition. I actually videotaped the entire concert. I am not sure I will make the entire performance available on YouTube. Usually I only use snippets of live performances. Regardless, they were so good! No, so GREAT!
Chopin concert featuring the winners of the 2016 Chopin Piano Competition
Sophie Hodorowicz Knab talked about her latest book, "Wearing the Letter P"
Irena Kossakowski Clarke discussed her book, "A Homeland Denied"
Pierogi line: long, but worth the wait
Main Festival Tent
Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Day 2 Evening
​I was able to meet Barbara Chepaitis who has written several books relating to Lituanian culture. Her latest book is entitled "Amber"; I have a copy and am anxious to read it. (I also have been listening to Harry Pellegrin's CD every chance I get. I will be listening tomorrow to Harry all the way home to Rochester.) Tony's Polka Band is rocking tonight in the Main Tent. Everyone is having a blast!
Barbara Chepaitis
Tony's Polka Band
Sunday, June 4, 2017 - Day 3 Afternoon
​The final day of PolishFestNY opens at noon after the 11 o'clock Mass. I am looking forward to attending the Bravo Strings Slavic Folk Concert and then a performance by the BVMC Polish Folk Dancers. After that I will be on my way. I am anxious to get home and start putting together my videos. I have so much footage; too much! It may take a few days to do the editing.

Rain is predicted for this afternoon. Hope it doesn't spoil things.

If you have been following this blog, thank you. Please remember to check back to view the videos.

Thank you parishioners of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish for you generous hospitality. You put on a wonderful event!

Tony's Polka Band
Siwy koń
Dragonfly Guitar
to view the beautiful 
ON RIGHT: With my buddy Anntonette Zembrzuski Alberti who (with the parish committee) has done so much to make PolishFestNY a huge success. Thank you Anntonette for being so welcoming.