BRISTOL - The public filled the parking lot of St. Stanislaus Church Saturday afternoon to celebrate the 30th annual Dozynki festival and enjoy Polish traditions and cuisine.
Many found their way to the festival after a Mass held at the church where the parish choir performed to join the “traditional celebration of harvest,” said Fred Sellberg, church member and general chairman of the event.
In a parking lot full of vendors, food and community organizations, Sellberg said the event is a huge attraction every year, and continues to grow. As many waited in a line that stretched across the church’s parking lot for traditional Polish food and desserts, he said the line was “the largest seen yet.”
President of the Polish Society Irene Grabowy explained the society started in 1902, because there were only Polish societies in New Britain in Forestville, and not in Bristol.
“In 1919, the society held its first Mass at the parish, and in 1989, we started the Dozynki Festival, or Harvest Festival,” Grabowy said, as she took a break from cooking traditional Polish cuisine such as golumpki, pierogies, kielbasa and chruscki.
The festival maintains Polish traditions and joins in the celebration with many farmers in Poland who are showing their appreciation for all the crops grown this year, said Grabowy, who has helped organize the event for roughly the last 25 years.
“They are doing the same thing in Poland, and everyone is enjoying and giving thanks for their crops, and we are continuing that tradition here,” Grabowy said. She added that the menu stays the same each year to maintain traditions.
“We prepare a lot of food before the event, except the pancakes, those we always make fresh. People from all over come for the food; we have a reputation for the food,” she said.
As kids enjoyed the games and activities set up for them in the Kids Zone, Debbie Sousa of the St. Stanislaus Church Youth Ministry explained this is the fourth year in a row the youth ministry has set up a booth with the activities like corn hole, Jenga and much more.
“We fundraise and promote our mission trips, with anywhere from 10 to 15 kids, who travel to do service work, and this year’s trip is in July,” Sousa said. “The festival is very cultural, and for the Polish heritage. It brings people together of all ages and groups to be thankful, together.”
With Polka music in the background and busloads of people being transported from Centre Square, Elizabeth Changnon, who has attended the event for over 20 years, said the event serves as an important way to maintain the Polish heritage, give thanks for this year’s crops and raise proceeds for the church.
“It’s a festival giving thanks for the crops and all the proceeds go to the church,” she said. “It’s a very important event for the church.”
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at email@example.com or at 860-973-5088.