Cheektowaga’s Polish culture will be on full display this weekend, as the 40th annual Polish American Arts Festival is set to bring crowds to Town Park for Polish food, fun and, of course, polka from bands near and far.
The festival kicks off Friday, July 20, at the park, 2600 Harlem Road, with the first band of the weekend, Cheektowaga’s own Special Delivery, taking the stage at 4:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. Polish Happy Hour will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the beer tent, and Buffalo-based band The Original Krew Brothers s scheduled to perform at 6 and 8:45 p.m.
Additionally, at 6:30 p.m., Anna Maria Anders, the secretary of state of Poland, will cut the ribbon for the Trail of Hope exhibit, highlighting the World War II-era Polish military forces under the command of Gen. Wladyslaw Anders, known as Anders’ Army, which will be open for viewing throughout the festival. Anna Maria Anders is the daughter of the late general.
The music gets underway again at 2 p.m. Saturday with Cheektowaga’s
New Direction Band performing. That’s followed by performances by Grammy nominated Lenny Gomulka and the Chicago Push Orchestra at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. and shows by Maryland band The Boys, at 7 and 9:45 p.m.
Between those performances, there will be a Polish Mass at 4:45 p.m. featuring the Rev. Louis Klein, pastor at Mary Queen of Martyrs Church; Deacon Robert Badaszewski, of the Diocese of Buffalo; and the Villa Maria Chorale.
Sunday’s highlight will be the 80th annual Pulaski Day Parade, which will proceed west on Walden Avenue from the Thruway Plaza, then continue north on Harlem Road to Town Park. The parade is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., and this year’s grand marshal is Camille Brandon, director of the General Pulaski Association Inc., which sponsors it.
Honorary grand marshals include Anna Maria Anders; Loretta Swit, “M*A*S*H*” star and Emmy Award winner; Rita Cosby, Emmy-winning television host and journalist; Lady Blanka Rosenstiel, president of the American Institute of Polish Culture and honorary consul of the Republic of Poland; Thomas DiNapoli, New York State comptroller; John Mills, Erie County legislator; Bishop Richard Malone of the Buffalo Diocese; Ivana Lowell, philanthropist and co-owner of Lowell International Foods; Maciej Golubiewski, consul general of Poland; Assemblywoman Monica Wallace; orthopaedic surgeon Robert Smolinski; Erie County Legislature Chairman Peter Savage; Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz; Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw; Cheektowaga Judge Paul Piotrowski; Gregory Fryc, president of Pangea Network USA; Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz, Bishop John Mack; and state Sen. Timothy Kennedy.
Also on Sunday will be a 3:30 p.m. performance by disco polo star Junior US, coming from Poland. Other performances on Sunday include Lenny Gomulka and the Chicago Push Orchestra at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. and The Buffalo Touch at 5 and 8 p.m.
Of course, throughout the festival weekend, guests will be able to eat Polish food from local favorites such as Polish Villa II and Potts Deli & Grille, as well as visit exhibits and vendors such as the Polish Genealogical Society of Western New York and the Polish Heritage Dancers.
The festival is organized and run by the Town of Cheektowaga, General Pulaski Association of WNY, Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce, Cheektowaga Senior Center Foundation and Cheektowaga Youth Foundation.
For more information about the event, check out the Cheektowaga Polish American Arts Festival on Facebook.