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Real Polish: Ethnic festival builds on a Toledo tradition

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    A celebration of food, dancing, and all things Polish is set for this weekend at Club 16 in Holland, presented by the Polish American Community of Toledo (PACT).

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    A celebration of food, dancing, and all things Polish is set for this weekend at Club 16 in Holland, presented by the Polish American Community of Toledo (PACT).

    The Blade
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    A celebration of food, dancing, and all things Polish is set for this weekend at Club 16 in Holland, presented by the Polish American Community of Toledo (PACT).

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Polka dancing and kielbasa? That’s the least visitors can expect from a new Polish festival this weekend.

“It’s going to be much, much bigger than what would have been the old festival,” said an excited Jack Sparagowski, president of the Polish American Community of Toledo (PACT).

PACT will sponsor a three-day event called “A Real Polish-American Festival” on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Club 16, 316 S. King Rd., in Holland.

BLADE BRIEFING: Geoff Burns on “A Real Polish-American Festival”

The festival returns after original sponsor United North announced it was taking a year off in 2017 because of a lack of staff members and time. United North had staged the Lagrange Street Polish Festival for 32 years.

The 2018 return marks a shift in location: Club 16 in Holland.

“We’re calling it ‘A Real Polish American Festival’ because it really is going to highlight a culture that exists in our community,” Sparagowski said.

This year’s Polish-American festival will include three days of music from Dynabrass, Duane Malinowski, Randy Krajewski, Badinov, and Kielbasa Kings. More than 40 vendors will be stationed at Club 16’s 20-acre grounds, and there will be amusement rides for children.

If You Go

What: A Real Polish-American Festival

When: 4-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Club 16, 316 S. King Rd., Holland

Admission: $8, children 12 and under are free.

Sparagowski said this year’s festival will include a “Dancing with the Stars” polka-style parody pairing people from the area and professional polka dancers. 

Magicians, balloon artists, and face painters will also be on hand, along with craft seminars. Naturally, Polish food will be a staple, ranging from kielbasa, Polish chicken, and sauerkraut balls, to ice cream, and baked goods. Shuttle rides from the Bier Stube on Monroe Street to Club 16 will be available all three days.

Sparagowski said people from the National Polish Sports Hall of Fame will be at the festival with memorabilia, including an athlete doing signings.

“For any sports buff this is an athlete they’ll want to talk to,” he said. “It’s really cool.”

Stan “Stosh” Pryba, vice president of PACT and a member of the committee charged with making the new festival a reality, said members of PACT wanted to host the Polish-American festival to keep the community’s heritage alive in Toledo.

“We don’t want the Polish traditions and the culture to get lost in time,” Pryba said. “Things get lost if you don’t keep them going. History helps us relate to one another socially and ethnically. We can have respect for one another’s culture, upbringing, and heritage.”

Pryba said PACT was not a part of the Polish festival that United North hosted for 32 years. The Real Polish-American Festival is not meant to compete against United North, he said.

“Ours was just to make sure that we don’t forget all about some of these traditions. It’s keeping the heritage alive.”

While this weekend is the first year for PACT hosting the festival, Pryba said the 10-member board wants to continue the Real Polish-American Festival.

“Our intention will be to have [the festival] annually,” he said.

United North does not have any plans of hosting its Polish American Festival this year.

Contact Geoff Burns at gburns@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.

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