One of my tryout contributions for LITGM was about Pierogifest, held each year in Whiting Indiana. The photos weren’t mine. I did not know that Dan would publish it so I used photos from their website. Well, Pierogifest came and went last weekend. I was there. Again, it did not disappoint me.
Whiting is a town made up of Polish and Salvic immigrants who worked in nearby oil refineries and steel mills. They became true American citizens. They learned English and raised their children to be proud Americans and learn English. They needed no phony, divisive, hyphenated prefix. They came here because it was so much better to be here than the land and life they left. I know, I'm the product of such a family.
Their website explains how Pierogifest started. I heard another story from a friend who lives in Whiting. A few guys were in a bar one night. They discussed closing the main streets and throwing one big block party. After a few pitchers of cheap malt beverage their theme ideas for the party got wackier. They settled on honoring the the humble pierogi and playing out a spoof on thier diminishing ethnic heritage. It started out as a small, a one-day block party beginning with a parade making fun of their peasant grandparents' way of life. It became popular very quickly and grew to a three day event that got so large it is now managed by the chamber of commerce. I cannot find numbers to back me up but I would bet that 100,000 people attend. Easily.
(Below, sausages on the left, pierogis on the right)
Pierogifest shows how an ethnic group of people can have some fun with their heritage and use it to their advantage. The vendors sell a variety of Polish food along with Polish flags, t-shirts with humorous ethnic messages. They have live Polka bands and people actually dance in the street with the help of distilled spirits. It is a good time to have a laugh at our own expense. It kicks off on a Friday evening with a parade. It’s a real gas. Speaking of gas, check out this image of one of the floats. An authentic PAS-GAS-CAR.
They must let anyone in the parade. Including political gadflys such as this guy. But I think this guy is far more in touch with the working class than John Edwards and the merry band of circus midgets known as the democrat party.
This fine gentleman shows up each year wearing the same outfit even when it is 99 degrees. He resembles an older Ed Grimley. He dances with women young and old and he goes all night long. Women love it when that happens.
Look for part 2 later this week. I still have to follow up with Porter County Fair Part 2 (The Food) around Wednesday. I am on a roll with food. Pun intended.