NEW BRITAIN -Atmosphere, music and food are the three things that keep people coming back to Dozynki, the traditional Polish festival celebrating the harvest, according to the chairman of the Polish American Council, Rich Pokorski.
“And then, obviously, to see the people they haven’t seen in a year. That’s really what it’s all about: being part of the traditions and moving these traditions to the next generation afterward,” Pokorski said.
Now in its 37th year, the two-day festival at Falcon Field, which ended on Sunday, brings together people of Polish descent and others to enjoy Polish-themed entertainment, food and merchandise sold by vendors.
Sophie Zera of New Britain was on her way to get groceries when she stopped for lunch at the festival. Zera was born and raised in a Polish home and loves Polish food.
It all began on Saturday with a traditional outdoor Mass at 11 a.m.
This year, Dozynki celebrated the 65th anniversary of New Britain’s Polonia Paderewski Choir, which performed, and the 110th anniversary of Polish Falcons Nest 88 in New Britain.
Dozynki has beeb sponsored by the Polish American Council for 37 years as a way of keeping Polish traditions alive.
“The Polish community here in New Britain is probably one of the biggest communities in the United States, so we have a very large and growing Polish community,” Pokorski said. “We obviously want to keep that tradition, have people who engage in the community and move these traditions forward.”
The festival dates back at least 1,000 years in Poland, and is held in cities with large Polish populations throughout the United States. Pokorski estimates 3,000 to 5,000 people come out each year.
“Because there’s been a lot of other events in the area (over the weekend), we anticipated a little bit less of a crowd, but actually it’s been a very good crowd. We had a full house (Saturday night), the entire parking lot was full,” Pokorski said.
Polka music was provided by the Rich Bobinski Orchestra with traditional polkas, while the Rytm Band played contemporary Polish music.
Pokorski said the festival is keen to maintain traditions and many of the vendors come from Polish backgrounds.
“It’s unique to people who haven’t been a part of such a culture and it’s a great opportunity to show different people what the Polish community does in New Britain and throughout the state of Connecticut and New England,” he said.
Since the New Britain Dozynki started 37 years ago, Pokorski said, other Dozynki festivals have popped up.
“Now you see a lot of these different festivals popping up across the state and it’s basically because of this festival,” Pokorski said. “They see how successful this festival is, so they want to replicate it elsewhere.”
For Laurie and Henry Zajac of Southington, this was their third year attending Dozynki.
“It’s something nice to do on a weekend day to enjoy the weather. We like to hear music and watch people,” Laurie said.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.