The Rapidian

Polish Festival brings food, music, polka to downtown Grand Rapids

Polish Festival 2016 will be held at Rosa Parks Circle on August 26-28, 2016.
Underwriting support from:
Polka dancers at Grand Rapids' Polish Festival

Polka dancers at Grand Rapids' Polish Festival /Courtesy of the Polish Heritage Society of Grand Rapids

Winged warrior replica which will be in the cultural tent

Winged warrior replica which will be in the cultural tent /Courtesy of the Polish Heritage Society of Grand Rapids

The Polish Festival 2016 will be held on August 26-28, 2016 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. Celebrating Polish contributions to society through the centuries, the festival features a historical and cultural booth featuring the "Winged Warriors." Winged Hussars, also known as the Polish Winged Warriors, were one of the most effective military forces in the world. In the 16th and 17th century, Winged Hussars were used as elite Polish shock troops. They were known for their wings of long feathers worn on their backs or attached to the saddles of their horses. In a group of forces they were quite a sight to behold.

There will be cooking demonstrations, a Polish dance group, non-stop music (primarily polkas) children’s activities on Saturday, a Busia contest on Sunday, famously delicious Polish food and a beer tent featuring Polish beer. The beer will include the "Polish Falcon" from Long Road Distillers.   

"I am making a replica of the Winged Hussar’s armor using pheasant feathers and even some leopard fur that was donated to me. It will give our visitors a glimpse into how spectacular these warriors looked when they entered the battlefield," said Mike Swidwinski, in charge of the historical and cultural tent.

The Polish Heritage Society of Grand Rapids uses part of the proceeds from the festival to award students of Polish descent scholarships to Grand Valley State College, Aquinas, and Grand Rapids Community College.

The organization also strives to keep the customs and traditions of Poland alive by hosting traditional Polish festivities such as Wigilia (Christmas Eve) Dinner and Matka Boska, a celebration of the Assumption of Mary.

"Our festival is free to attend and open to the public. We hold it in the center of our great city to be accessible to bus riders, bikers, cars or whatever your mode of transportation," said Marilyn Lignell, Polish Heritage Society President. "We are proud of our heritage and would love for anyone to come out and experience our fun-filled festival."

There will be Polish merchandise available for purchase including beautiful Polish pottery, amber jewelry, Polish glass, Polish baked goods, and a variety of T-shirts. The food is made from scratch and freshly prepared on sight.

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