NEW BRITAIN - The economic benefits of the Little Poland Festival, which last year drew 20,000 people, can be felt long after the last pierogi is sold, according to organizers and others.
The annual event has taken on new life, with thousands clogging Broad Street for a day of fun, entertainment, Polish culture and Polish food. Many of the street’s restaurants and businesses pay to be vendors, providing a wide array of food and merchandise and an opportunity to get the word out about their wares.
This year the festival, which is sponsored by the Polonia Business Association, will be held Sunday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event will feature entertainment, food, carnival rides, a beer garden, mascots and more than 60 vendors.
It’s both a short-term and a long-term boost for area businesses, said organizer Margaret Malinowski, co-owner of the Staropolska restaurant.
“The street benefits as a whole after the festival,” said Malinowski, who is very involved in the event but does not purchase a booth for the day. “We have an influx of people who usually come, but those people tell their friends. We have people from out of state who come and we have people who don’t have Polish roots who come back to the area. That’s what we’re trying to attract.”
Since her Broad Street restaurant is a few blocks from the festival, Malinowski finds it too difficult to run a booth that day. But she does get good business from the festival because people will walk up the street to have a meal. More importantly, she said, the festival draws people who aren’t Polish who are willing to come back to Little Poland throughout the year.
“We’ve branded the whole street by calling it Little Poland,” she said. “We have delis, stores, restaurants, travel agencies and even a bank, We’re known as a place where you can go and get everything you need to do done. People come for the festival and then come back to browse.”
Kasia’s bakery on Broad Street also sees a short-term and a long-term boost, said Natalie Karol, who was behind the counter serving up pierogi and baked confections Thursday.
“They come back all the time,” she said through an interpreter.
“Even today, I was at work and a person said she comes to the festival every year and comes back throughout the year,” said Oksana Kovalchuk, who stopped at the bakery for fresh rolls. “Of course it helps,” she said of the festival.
The festival is a perfect way to guarantee that businesses on Broad Street remain financially healthy, said Lucian Pawlak, executive director of the festival.
“I tell people you can’t sustain your business with just the local community, you have to spread it out,” he said. “When I see people walking up and down Broad Street with cameras, I know it’s working.”
For more information on the festival, visit its website at www.littlepolandfest.com .