24 September 2005
Early Polish immigrants to Oregon settled in the Overlook District of North Portland. By 1892 they had formed their own Polish National Alliance chapter, and in 1907 built the St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church. In 1911, the Polish Library Hall was erected just south of the church. For the past 12 years North Failing Street, which runs between the two buildings, has been cordoned off and the festival is held on these historic grounds.
To ease the congestion of long lines, the festival employs the use of tokens for the purchase of food and drink. For nine tokens, I was served a plate with kielbasa sausage, golabki (a cabbage roll stuffed with rice and ground pork), two pierogis, a spoonful of hunter’s stew, and a soft roll. Also available were potato pancakes, kapusta, traditional desserts and coffee, and Polish beer.
Along with the food court, a fairway with vendors selling everything from traditional Polish pottery to literature lines the adjacent parking lot.
The entertainment stage is full of activity throughout the festival with singers and dance groups. Particularly enthralling is the local dance troupe Sobotka , comprised of three age groups ranging from 5 years to over 50. With their brightly colored costumes and quick-stepping footwork, they embody the festival spirit of culture and celebration that draws attendees back year after year. Next year, I will have to make sure I don’t miss the polka contest and the Oregon Polka Beats performance!