We had a barrel of fun

My paternal grandfather would have loved Pulaski Polka Days.

Though he stood as wide as he was tall (and he was not a short man), Pap had amazingly light feet, particularly when he danced the polka.

A retired coal miner and a man of few words, Pap came to life when he heard that cheerful oom-pah-pah and he whipped his dance partner around the floor with gleeful abandon.

I thought about him Saturday as we skipped our way around the sweaty dance floors in Pulaski. For 34-years this small town has celebrated its Polish heritage with a festival including food (holubkis, pierogis, Polish sausage and paczkis), games, a craft fair, religious services and a parade.

But the star of the four-day event is the polka, a happy dance essentially no more complicated than a kindergartner’s skip.

With the smell of sauerkraut wafting through the steamy air, we made our way through the entrance and saw the first polka tent immediately to our right. Except for weddings, we’d never publicly danced the polka together and we were nervous at first to jump in. There’s an intimidating traffic flow we didn’t want to interrupt.

We watched for a bit and, with visions of embarrassing collisions dancing in our heads, we decided to mosey on over to the food tent.

Eventually, we returned to the dance tent, closed our eyes and jumped in, steering ourselves immediately to the center of the floor where we could get our bearings and find the beat without ramming a grandma. Gingerly, we made our way into the polka traffic, not unlike a student driver merging onto a highway for the first time, and then we relaxed.

We certainly weren’t the best dancers on the floor — those perspiration adverse couples maintained enviably serene faces while they dressed up their polkas with high kicks and dizzying turns. But, eventually we did feel like we blended right in.

We highly recommend Pulaski Polka Days and we plan to make it an annual event.

Here is Pap — he loved babies, polkas, snuff, and an occasional shot-and-a-beer.
The entrance to the festival. The aroma of sauerkraut is pulling us in.
You don’t often see pierogis and cabbage rolls on a festival menu.
Such an unflattering photo of me, but proof that we braved the dance floor. Dancing the polka is super fun and excellent exercise.
I loved this cranky man’s T-shirt. He said it was one of a kind and it read “Never too pooped to polka.”
This young man gamely led his grandmother around the dance floor for a couple of tunes. The polka is a family dance.
They’re waiting for the music to start up again, but this couple could really dance and I loved their matching patriotic ensemble.
We stopped at Smurawa’s Country Bakery, home of the famous paczki. We picked up some frozen pierogis, halubkis and babka. I’m going to word this next part carefully because I don’t want my Grandma to smite me from on high, but these pierogis were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Another great T-shirt and proud Polish man.

6 thoughts on “We had a barrel of fun

  1. Thank you so much for visiting us this past weekend during our Polka festival. It is especially gratifying to hear the wonderful comments and sharing them with our family and staff. It was once again a joy to share our bakery and village with so many wonderful visitors. We hope to see you again soon.

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