Riverhead’s Polish Fair canceled for second straight year

The Polish Street Fair and Festival has been canceled for the second consecutive year. 

Kay Davis, president of the Polish Town Civic Association, said town regulations would have required the organization to file for permits in January, long before it was known whether the event could take place due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I just think it’s really, really terrible, but there’s nothing we can do,” Ms. Davis said. “I can’t fill out 300-something applications now and expect people to come.”  

About 250 vendors typically operate at the annual festival, which has been held every August since 1975 and draws thousands of visitors from across Long Island.  

Ms. Davis said the association didn’t know “what was going to happen” this summer. Vaccines had not been widely distributed in January and Suffolk County at the time was hovering between a six and 10% COVID-19 positivity rate.  

New York state offered updated guidelines on local festivals May 17, about a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted mask mandates for vaccinated people. The guidelines require state health department approval for festivals with more than 5,000 people in attendance and a six-foot distancing rule was put in place for fairs that do not require proof of vaccination. 

Ms. Davis pointed out that events like the Mattituck strawberry festival are happening in other towns and said the cancelation is “very unfair to us, but we can’t change the rules.”  

“We definitely will be there next year, hopefully bigger and better,” she added.