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Dance Time
by Jennifer Pijanowski
© 2017 Polish American Journal

Back to the Old Neighborhood

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Rochester, N.Y. celebrated its Polish American roots with polka music at its annual Polish Arts Festival on August 4-5. Music was provided by Jasiu Klocek & the Salt City Brass, on August 4, and the Buffalo Concertina All Stars the following day.

Rainy weather and threats of thunderstorms didn’t keep the dancers away from enjoying the upbeat music of Salt City Brass, who hail from Syracuse. I had gotten the chance to hear this band a few years ago at the Syracuse Polish Festival, so I was excited to see they would be making a trip to play in nearby Rochester. The band showcases a variety of music, playing waltzes, breaks, polkas, swing, and more. Buffalo Concertina All Stars kept folks entertained — even if they were grabbing a bite to eat — and definitely motivated attendees to stay and enjoy the entertainment into the evening. It is wonderful to see so many people show up in support of this ethnic church located on the north side of Rochester.

St. Stanislaus was formed in 1889 on the corner of Hudson Ave. and Norton St., which was literally carved out by Polish immigrants through fields marking the northern line of the city. For many yeas, Hudson Avenue was a dirt road which ran between a long stretch of wild flowers and fruit trees. A map of the area in the year the land was purchased by immigrants to build St. Stan’s in 1889, shows Polish immigrants christening the surrounding streets in honor of Polish heroes Kosciuszko and Sobieski. The congregation has changed immensely over the past several decades, but still serves as a center of worship for families who have been a part of the parish for several generations, immigrant families from Poland, as well as people of other heritages who have been inspired by this spiritual center. The beautifully appointed church showcases a mural depicting saints, kings, and holy images of many prominent Catholics in Poland and Eastern Europe. The gorgeous mural is the artistic work of Buffalo’s Joseph Mazur II and is definitely worth the trip to visit. There is also a beloved shrine honoring Our Lady of Czestochowa and St. John Paul II that expresses the deep love Poles share for them.

AN ALL-STAR EVENT.  Buffalo Polka Boosters had its annual picnic at Fontana’s Grove with Concertina All Stars providing the music. Both club members and guests were treated to a fun-filled day at the grove. Attendees feasted on a day-long buffet of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, salads, corn, and watermelon. A special thank you to Ron Moscoe, who provided the delicious dessert, as we all enjoyed cake celebrating his wife Nina’s birthday. The picnic served as a splendid locale for a birthday bash with many of Nina’s family and friends gathered. Their son and daughter-in-law made the trip in from Philadelphia to share in the day. Neil and Mary Ann Makatenas from New Jersey also made the road trip, bringing along past board member Barbara Zwawa. It was wonderful to visit with Neil and Mary Ann at this event. Many of you may know Neil from the Polka Party on Polka Jammer, where he regularly hosts with Andy Citkowicz. They are true polka lovers and we were thrilled that they made the trip to Buffalo this summer.

Buffalo Polka Booster meetings will begin again with the Buffalo Touch, Sept. 28. The meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at Polish Falcons, 445 Columbia Ave. Depew, N.Y. Bands perform from 8:00-10:30 p.m. and the cost is $7.00 for members and $12.00 for non-members. Monthly events include music, light refreshents, beer, and soda. If you haven’t joined Buffalo Polka Boosters, stop by and see what you are missing. The long-standing club strives to promote polka music, especially local area bands. It is an honor to see all of the talent and pride at these local get togethers.

FOOD AND FUN FOLLOW MASS. Years ago, summers were spent attending one church lawn fete after another, soaking up the music, food and fellowship of each congregation. Those beloved lawn fetes showcased many polka bands and drew crowds to dance under the beer tent. Unfortunately, it seems that as church attendance dwindles, so do the volunteers who helped organize these church socials. Western New York, which is home to hundreds of Catholic churches, is still lucky enough to possess a handful of these communal events. Most recently, Fourteen Holy Helpers in West Seneca held its annual street fair. Country and pop music were the highlight on Friday and Saturday saving the best music for Sunday afternoon. The morning started off with a polka Mass and immediately following, Buffalo Touch took the stage in the beer tent. A wide variety of age groups took advantage of the beautiful weather and a polka Sunday. Polish dinners were sold out in record time as folks reveled in the gorgeous weather. Ted Szymanski of Special Delivery did a wonderful job filling in on accordion with this band, which continues to attract faithful followers. Long-time Buffalo Touch groupies Mike and Tammy Soich traveled from Greensburg, Pa. to dance. It was wonderful to see members of Phocus and Special Delivery out in full force supporting this church’s commitment to polka music. Congratulations to the volunteers and parishioners of Fourteen Holy Helpers on an extremely successful event.

UPCOMING EVENTS. The Posen Potato Festival will celebrate its 66th anniversary this year, Sept. 8-10. Non-stop polka music is the centerpiece of this Michigan Festival. Polka music holds this special place as it is recorded that over 56% of the population in Posen is of Polish decent. The village, which proudly honors its strong Polish background, will kick-off the weekend with music by New Brass Express, along with Dynabrass on Fri., Sept. 8 from 7:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. Polka music continues with Box On, and Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push. This weekend has entertainment for any age or interest with rides, cooking competitions, competitive eating, delicious homemade dinners, and a flea market filled with treasures.

Don’t forget to stop by at the Knights of Columbus or V.F.W. for one of their delectable breakfasts to start your day.

For further information on the festivities, you can call (989) 768-8128 or visit www.posenpotatofestival.com.

It is time once again to remind everyone of my favorite event, Roncesvalles Polish Festival, held in a quaint neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario. This year’s event will be Sept. 16-17, 2017. I rave about this event and have yet to meet anyone who has been disappointed once they attend it. The PolkaMania Stage will feature John Gora, Atlantis, Ed Guca & the Polish Canadians, and Concertina All Stars with more bands to be announced. The highlight of the event for me is “Dancing Under the Stars,” which features Eddie Guca and hundreds of people dancing carefree in the street.

Enjoy 18 blocks of shops, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, delis, bars, and expanded street patios in this Polish and Eastern European inspired neighborhood. Visit www.polishfestival.ca for updated information about the event.

An event is being held for the 27th year in the Penn-Ohio area on September 24, 2017. Lawrence County Polish Day celebration will welcome the talents of Polka Country Musicians and the Nu-Tones to the stage, beginning at 1:00 p.m. This dance will be held at Cascade Park Pavilion, 1928 E. Washington St., New Castle, Pa. Admission is $13.00 and proceeds from this event will benefit the PALC Scholarship Fund as well as other organizational activities in Lawrence County. There will also be a designated area for voluntary donations of children’s items or money to assist orphanages in Poland.

This is an absolutely beautiful venue to celebrate the end of the summer season. The raised stage and beautiful dance floor complete the character of this well preserved pavilion. For more information, contact Gary Fray (724) 732-9988 or Jean Calvert (724) 654-6337. It is definitely a worthwhile road trip to Pennsylvania.

There is no better way to kick off an event at a new polka venue than with some of the hottest bands in the industry. Promoter Michael Pucowski will be hosting this inaugural event at Independence Fire Hall in Great Meadows, N.J. on Sat., Sept. 30 from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. The premier event will feature music from The Beat and The Knewz. Advance tickets are $17.00 or $20.00 at the door, with kids 16 and under free with a paid adult. Additional polka events have already been scheduled at this location including Lenny Gomulka on December 9, 2017. You can contact Michael for additional information (904) 209-9843 or email him mpuco@optonline.net. Please support this new venture if you are able and keep polka music alive and well.


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