HOUTZDALE — It’s an annual tradition that’s been taking place since the 1970s and this year will be no exception, as fans of Polish food will flock to Houtzdale Sunday, Aug. 19, for the St. Barbara Polish National Catholic Church’s Dozynki Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The church is located across from SCI Houtzdale, but those plugging into a GPS can use 76 Emery Ave., Houtzdale.
Festival chairperson Crissy Lidgett said this year they are dedicating the festival to Bishop Thaddeus Peplowski, who passed away on Jan. 19. Peplowski was the previous pastor of St. Barbara’s and was the founder of the festival.
“He was well known when he became bishop and he went all over the world and opened Polish National Catholic churches,” Lidgett said.
There’s something for everyone at the festival – from Polish food, entertainment, craft vendors, games, a cake booth, a cash bar and a softball tournament.
“We literally get thousands of people that come in,” Lidgett said. “The biggest draw is our Polish platter. It features pierogies, haluski, halupki and a kielbasa sandwich.”
Lidgett said they’ve been hosting the festival for so long that many families have been coming here for generations.
One of the feature items are the pierogies. Lidgett said a group of about six to eight ladies makes pierogies year-round each week.
“They make about 1,000 pierogies in a week,” Lidgett said, as she typically bags up the finished product.
For the festival and for the Delgrosso’s Park Harvest Fest at the end of September, Lidgett said they make about 15,000 pierogies.
“Right after that is the Christmas sale,” Lidgett said. “Then right after that is Easter. Then they start all over again.”
At one point, they thought about getting a pierogie maker and got information about it from a church in Johnstown. However, there were some issues when it came to using the same recipe.
“We would’ve had to change our recipe and use (instant) potatoes,” Lidgett said. “We decided not to do that, so ours are homemade with real potatoes. Not a lot of people do it and I think that’s why we sell so many.”
Potato and cheese pierogies are made year-round. For Easter, the group makes jalapeño, loaded and sauerkraut pierogies, as well as nut rolls.
“We definitely keep busy for a small church,” Lidgett said.
For those not interested in Polish food, Lidgett said there is also a booth with typical American foods.
She said as far as entertainment, the band Vagabonds will be playing Polish music as well as DJ Opie.
“We try to keep some of the Polish culture and that’s why we have the music,” Lidgett said. “We’ll have a lot of pictures from when the church started out for people to see as well ... So we’ll be celebrating the last 40 years and celebrating that Bishop Peplowski started this.”