Cheryl Lewis and Erica Geml attend a previous year’s  American Polish Festival as the 2016 Polish queen and princess.

Cheryl Lewis and Erica Geml attend a previous year’s American Polish Festival as the 2016 Polish queen and princess.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Polish festival to cook up new dishes

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 14, 2019


STERLING HEIGHTS — The summer is a busy time for Leonard Palermino, the executive chef and general manager at the American-Polish Century Club.

That’s when he presides over a kitchen that is busy preparing pierogi dumplings, kielbasa sausage, “city chicken” kabobs and other dishes that will be eaten at the American Polish Festival and Craft Show in July.

Besides a common origin, he said, the food shares a key ingredient: love.

“Everything here is their family recipes,” he said. “We get together. When we cook, we cook with friends and family over there, the golabki and the city chicken.

“Everyone has a good time. That’s why we feel that that little extra care and love goes into our dishes. You can really taste and see the difference and caring in preparing the products.”

Metro Detroiters can taste these dishes for themselves at the American Polish Festival and Craft Show, which will run July 12-14 at the American-Polish Century Club in Sterling Heights.  

According to festival organizers, thousands of people head out to the event every year.

The festival is also famous for fusing traditional Polish food like pierogi and golabki with American classics, resulting in meals such as Polish nachos and kielbasa sandwiches.

Palermino said some of the unique offerings this year include a new paczki burger, as well as a vegetarian sausage with sauerkraut on a gluten-free bun. Polish egg rolls — which feature kielbasa, cabbage and a spicy horseradish sauce — will also be back, he said.

Palermino invited the public to try the festival’s take on Polish sushi.

“It is a pickle covered in cream cheese, served with pickled horseradish and wrapped in salami,” he said. “The salami gives it the nori appearance. … You have the horseradish for the wasabi. The sauerkraut on the side will be replicating the pickled ginger.”

In terms of alcoholic beverages, the festival will offer special cocktails and the event’s special beer, which is called Pole Dancer.

Srodek’s Pierogi Eating Challenge will be back too, to crown whoever eats the most dumplings. In past years, fire departments and city councils have held separate eating contests as part of the overall event.

For music and entertainment, visitors may watch Polish dance groups. According to organizers, bands will include The Polish Muslims, The Knewz, the Polka Country Musicians, New Brass Express, and the American-Polish Century Club All-Star Polka Band.

APCC president and festival chairman Arnold Beller said the best part of the Polish festival is seeing everyone coming back together year after year “from all over the place.” He said the event’s volunteers work hard in the kitchen to accommodate them, and he also cited the music as a major attraction.

“We got some of the best bands,” he said. “We have the No. 1 polka band in the nation.”

Other festival events include a Sunday traditional Polish Mass and an outdoor craft show boasting more than 50 vendors, according to the event’s website.

The 2019 American Polish Festival and Craft Show will take place July 12-14 at the American-Polish Century Club, 33024 Maple Lane Drive, which is located near 14 Mile and Hoover roads in Sterling Heights. Festival hours are 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. General admission costs $5 for adults and is free for minors. Parking and shuttles are free.

Find out more about the event by visiting or by calling (586) 264-7990.