23rd festival rolls out Polish pride, polkas Customs and culture are celebrated in city

June 03, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Theresa Carr loved everything about Baltimore's annual Polish Festival -- the food, the atmosphere, the music, the chance to sit on a spit of grass in Patterson Park on a perfect Sunday afternoon, play with her son and talk to her best friend while tapping out a polka.

"We're Polish, so we love everything here. It's something you don't miss every year. You know it's summer when the Polish Festival comes," said Carr, who grew up in the East Baltimore neighborhood and lives just north of the park.

Carr was among thousands of people enjoying the city's 23rd annual festival celebrating Polish customs and culture -- an event graced by perfect weather since its opening Friday evening.

"We had my son doing the polka last night, but he won't dance today," she said as Billy Carr, 3, dodged the crowd in his "Polish Prince" T-shirt.

The Lenny Adams Band and the Tommy Thomas Trio alternated sets and tempos, as the "Polish Girlfriend Polka" was followed by a waltz, "Tell Me You're Mine Today." The waltzes drew many dancers.

Lovers of kielbasa -- Polish sausage -- had their choice of food stands, as did those who preferred pirogi, the filled dumplings shaped like half-moons. Stuffed cabbage, bow-tie-shaped pastries dusted with powdered sugar and noodles with fried onions also were available.

The lines seemed longest for potato pancakes.

For those with other tastes, vendors offered crab cakes, french fries, fried dough, lemonade and beer.

Marie Kijowski was tending a Polish culture booth, showing off dolls and books she had brought from home and selling red-and-white T-shirts proclaiming "Kochajmy Sie" (Love One Another) in keeping with the festival theme, "Wszyscy Polacy Jedna Rdozina" (All Poles, One Family).

"We have 1,000 years of culture to preserve," Kijowski said, echoing a theme of the morning Mass celebrated in the park.

Some dog owners were parading what they said were their Polish pooches -- most of them lowland sheep dogs -- and bicycle enthusiasts were riding in competition for prize money in the festival's first "Race for Pulaski," with six categories of 20- and 30-mile races.

Working the front gate near Eastern and Linwood avenues was a busy Anita Borzynowski, who said she had been a festival volunteer since the first one, held downtown in 1973.

"We've had so many people, more than we had in the last several years," she said, attributing the increase to the fine weather, the carnival rides, Saturday night's Chicago polka band and "no ballgame in town."

Pub Date: 6/03/96

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