Polish Festival marks end of Summer for Muskegon


Contributed graphic

Tyler Valk, Contributing Writer

Nothing says end of summer like Labor Day. In Muskegon, Labor Day weekend is marked by the annual Polish Festival. Taking place in Hackley Park, the Polish Festival – started in 2015 – celebrated its 6th year.

The Polish Festival came about after a group of Polish residents decided that they wanted to have a festival to celebrate their heritage. Tom Sanocki, President of the Polish Festival emphasizes the strong colors used throughout the festival, as colors have always been important to the Polish culture. Many Polish clothes have flowered patterns and flowers, and colors are important to the people of Poland because corn poppy is the national flower. Poland’s flag features the color red – the color of the corn poppy – as it is a symbol of the strength and resilience of the Polish people.

This year, the festival offered a variety of food vendors, who served authentic Polish cuisine, while others served carnival food, meat sandwiches, and ice cream. There are four main Polish treats to try, including Authentic Pierogi, a dumpling stuffed with potato, onion, farmer’s cheese, and seasoning. Today, many pierogis have different kinds of filling. Patrons could also enjoy Golombki (cabbage rolls), kielbasa (polish sausage), and Kapustka (sour kraut)! Sanocki said, “The dill pickle soup is delicious and worth trying.”

Aside from food, there were also quite a few activities to enjoy this year: face painting, balloon sculptures, corn hole, ladder ball, and much more. Due to COVID restrictions, the bounce house was not included in activities this year. All the fun wasn’t limited to just the kids! Adults enjoyed a Polish pottery booth, an etched glass booth, and a jewelry vendor with jewelry direct from Poland. And of course, authentic Polish bands played throughout the event so patrons could enjoy dancing the polka. The 5,000-pound wooden dance floor was made by hand and is used to give “bounce” as individuals dance.

Historically, the Polish Festival has had many sponsors, but this year, two individuals stuck out: Denise Piasecki, co-owner of D & D Logistics, and Susie Kwiecien, owner of Podge’s Pub. Piasecki and Kwiecien donated thousands of dollars in remembrance of their fathers. The Polish Festival is used to having at least 375 volunteers, but this year due to COVID restrictions, they were down 75 volunteers. Currently, the group is looking for individuals excited to volunteer for this annual event. “They really need volunteers for their festival going forward,” said Sanocki. Those interested in volunteering for next year’s festival can go to MuskegonPolishFest.com to sign up. Officials will send e-mails and post on social media to keep volunteers informed.