Sterling HeightsJune 26, 2012
Annual celebration packs a Polish punch
By Cortney Casey
C & G Staff Writer
Polkas, pierogi and performers
Friday, July 6
Saturday, July 7
• Festival hours: 10 a.m.-1 a.m.
• Music and dancing: noon-midnight.
• Craft show: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
• Performances: Halka Dance Ensemble, Zajaczek Dance Ensemble, Tony’s Polka Band, Downtown Sound, Polka Country Musicians.
• Srodek’s Pierogi Eating Challenge: Sterling Heights firefighters vs. police, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 8
• Festival hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
• Music and dancing: noon-8 p.m.
• Craft show: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
• Polish Mass: noon.
• Performances: Zakopane Dance Ensemble, Polka Country Musicians, Downtown Sound.
• Srodek’s Pierogi Eating Challenge: Open competition, 1 p.m.; Sterling Heights City Council vs. Warren City Council, 5 p.m.
Parking will be available for $5 at Maple Lane Golf Club, the Warren Consolidated Career Preparation Center and St. Blase Catholic Church, with continuous shuttle buses running to the festival site.
For more information, visit www.americanpolishfestival.com.
They’re required to maintain decorum behind the City Council tables, but officials from two neighboring cities will let loose during what’s bound to be a highlight of the July 6-8 American-Polish Festival and Craft Show.
At 5 p.m. July 8, the Sterling Heights and Warren city councils will take each other on in the Srodek’s Pierogi Eating Challenge, downing as many of the traditional Polish dumplings as possible in 10 minutes.
Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte joked that he’d “rather have spaghetti,” but “it’ll be a lot of fun. We’re going to have a good team. They’d better have a good appetite when they come.”
Warren Councilman Keith Sadowski, meanwhile, vowed that he and his colleagues are “going to kick their ‘dupa’ in it,” using the Polish slang for … posterior.
“I love when these festivals do something to create a little rivalry between the two cities,” said Sadowski, a member of the American-Polish Century Club, which puts the event on at its Sterling Heights grounds, just north of the Warren border. “I’m just grateful (for) all the people that come out to celebrate from both communities.”
The Sterling Heights Fire and Police departments also will battle in pierogi consumption, at 3:30 p.m. July 7.
“We thought about it and thought it would be kind of cool. … I think it adds, a little bit, to the community,” said Arnold Beller, the festival’s chairman.
Regardless of who earns the bragging rights, all four municipal teams will earn money for the charities of their choice, with the winners of each face-off receiving $500 and the runners-up getting $250.
Based on past attendance, organizers expect the American-Polish Festival to draw at least 15,000 visitors, though Beller said they’re aiming for 18,000.
In preparation, American-Polish Century Club members are whipping up 5,000 golabki, more than a ton of city chicken and 750 pounds of potato pancakes, and Beller said Srodek’s Deli of Hamtramck is supplying 20,000 of the signature pierogi.
They’ll be needed: In addition to the showdowns between city officials and public safety personnel, the Srodek’s Pierogi Eating Challenge will include a division for the general public, set for 1 p.m. July 8.
Festival attendees can pay $20 to get in on the action, downing pierogi during the Sunday event for a chance at a trophy and cash prize. Space is limited to 20 people.
Revelers also can snack on twists on traditional Polish dishes, such as the “Polish slider” and “Polish nachos.” Beer and spirits, Polish and otherwise, will be available for purchase.
Musical entertainment will be as abundant as the food, with Beller characterizing the lineup — featuring nationally known recording artists — as better than ever before.
Friday night will feature performances by The K-Tones, a Detroit favorite, and Tony’s Polka Band, a New York-based group that converts popular rock songs to polkas.
On Saturday, Tony’s Polka Band will take the stage once more, followed by Downtown Sound, playing Chicago “push-style” polka, and Polka Country Musicians from Connecticut, who transform country songs into polkas. The latter two groups will return for encore performances on Sunday.
Polish dancers — including the Wawel, Zajaczek, Halka and Zakopane dance ensembles — will show off their fancy footwork throughout the weekend, and festival organizers have declared the wooden dance floor the largest in southeastern Michigan.
There’s also an arts and crafts fair, with more than 55 juried vendors, and a Polish Mass at noon, featuring the American-Polish Century Club choir.
Charitable raffles supporting such groups as the Shriners, American Polish Assistance Association, the Polish Roman Catholic Union of Americans and the Wertz Warriors will be available, as well.
“It gives us a chance, really, for us to celebrate that Polish culture,” said Sadowski. “Every year, it seems like they have a few more twists and turns, things that they add, and a few things they subtract.”
The American-Polish Century Club is located at 33204 Maple Lane, near 14 Mile and Hoover, in Sterling Heights. For more information, visit www.americanpolishfestival.com.
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