NEW BRITAIN - Thereâ€™s no doubt that fall is in the air when the scent of kielbasa and sound of polka drift up from Falcon Field in late August.
This past weekend, the cityâ€™s Polish American Foundation celebrated the fall harvest - Dozynki - with its annual festival of the same name.
In addition to this being the 38th year of Dozynki in New Britain, 2018 also marked the centennial of Polandâ€™s independence.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors made their way around Falcon Field Saturday and Sunday, according the the festivalâ€™s chairman, Richard Pokorski.
â€śItâ€™s been tremendous,â€ť Pokorski said. â€śWeâ€™re happy with the turnout, especially since there are so many other events going on this weekend.â€ť
If visitors fancied pierogi, there were a half-dozen cooks making them. Little Polandâ€™s favorite Polish eateries all had booths at the event, offering their most popular dishes.
Most sought after from Berlinâ€™s Baltic Restaurant were the potato pancakes, according to Karolina Lipik, the daughter of the restaurantâ€™s owners.
â€śWe make them fresh to order,â€ť she said, lifting the covers off of trays filled with kielbasa and stuffed cabbage, also known as golabki.
Staropolska, Belvedere Restaurant and Zieleniak Deli were selling similar items just as quickly.
â€śThere are just as many choices as there are taste buds,â€ť Lipik said, pointing out that the neighboring restaurants all fared well at the festival, despite their matching menus.
â€śEverybody puts a different spin on their dishes,â€ť she added.
Msgr. Daniel Plocharczyk of Sacred Heart Church opened the festival with an outdoor Mass on Saturday. That was followed by performances by youth from the Polish Language School and the Polish Scouts. Other performers included the Moniuszko Choir, the Polonia Paderewski Choir and the Rich Bobinski Orchestra.
People came in droves that night, dancing to music from several performers, eating authentic Polish food and drinking with their family and friends.
The festival committee had gone through 160 cases of beer by midday Sunday, following the previous nightâ€™s party.
Rocky Hill resident Cindy Bortolan said she had so much fun Saturday that she returned with her daughter, Nicole Guillet, on Sunday.
â€śIâ€™m a double dipper,â€ť Bortolan said with a laugh. â€śItâ€™s just a great event. It brings the community together.â€ť
Mother and daughter enjoyed pierogi from Zieleniak and Belvedere, along with golabki.
Brothers Andre and Roman Szewczak sat at a picnic table drinking Polish beer with their friends, Kaz Wieckowski and Irek Cygler.
â€śWeâ€™re all Polish, if you canâ€™t tell,â€ť Roman said. â€śWeâ€™re here for food, family, music and drinking.â€ť
â€śThis is the gathering of juggernauts,â€ť added Wieckowski, motioning around the group.
All four men grew up in New Britain, though two have since moved to surrounding towns.
Dozynki was a chance for them to catch up and reminisce about the good old days on Broad Street.
Funds raised at the festival went toward six scholarships awarded to local students of Polish descent.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.