Polish Festival set for August 19

The Riverhead Polish Festival will return for its third consecutive year Saturday, Aug. 19, at 11 a.m., according to Tom Najdzion, who heads Riverhead’s Polish Hall, where the event has been held since its inception. 

This year, however, the festival is expanding and will include a street fair as well, he said. 

“We’re are going to close down the street from Marcy Avenue, where the Polish Hall is, all the way to Osborn Avenue, at the intersection of Pulaski Street School and the shopping center where Carlo’s Pizza is located.”

The Polish Festival, organized by the Riverhead Polish Independent Club,is a one-day event and is a replacement for the annual Polish Town Fair and Street Festival, which has been canceled for the last four years. This year, Polish Hall didn’t even file an application for the fair and street festival. 

The Polish Town Fair, organized by the Polish Town Civic Association, began in 1975 and was an annual event in until, like many others, it was suspended by COVID in 2020. Unlike other events, however, the fair was never revived. 

Starting in 2021, the Polish Independent Club stepped in to hold a one-day indoor festival on the date the Polish Town Fair would normally have been held. 

Mr. Najdzion said the name of the event is intended to avoid confusion with the Polish Town Fair. He said the some people have confused the two events and assumed the Polish Festival had been canceled. 

Some elements that had been traditional staples of the Polish Town Fair over the years will also be part of the Polish Festival, Mr. Najdzion said, including the Polish Wedding reenactment, the Maximilian Kolbe School of Dance performance and the crowning of the Polish Queen. 

“Right off the bat, first thing on Saturday, they are going to have the wedding in front of the Showmobile,” he said.

The festival will feature both daytime and nighttime events inside Polish Hall. There will be free live music by the John Stevens Polka Band from noon until 5 p.m., along with vendors and food for purchase, including a $20 “Polish platter” and a $10 kielbasa sandwich. 

Starting at 6 p.m. the D.J. Artur Retro Band will play until midnight. Admission for the evening event is $20 for adults and teens; $10 for children under age 12. 

Joyce Bressack, acting president of the Polish Town Civic Association, said they chose not to hold their traditional event this year. Former PTCA president Kay Davis, who had run the fair for decades, passed away early this year. 

“During COVID we stopped, and we just have not resumed it as yet,” Ms. Bressack said. 

“I’m only answering for right now,” she said. “Our civic group will assess where we’re at each year. I can only answer to you for 2023, and for this year, we were not able to go forward with it at this time. “

Ms. Bressack said, “We feel bad for everyone that was looking forward to it. We were too. We’re always hopeful.”

She said the PTCA is “completely separate” from the Polish Independent Club.