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Diversity Takes Center Stage on Saturday

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New Britain held two big cultural events this weekend in the first ever Latin Festival and the 36th Annual Dozynki Polish Festival.

KOHOE Centers and the Latino Festival Coalition presented its First Annual Latin Festival at Walnut Hill Park Saturday.

Food vendors lined the park featuring such goodies as Shish-ke-bobs, tacos, pina coladas, cheese fries, pinchos, empanadas and more. Kids played on bouncy balls, at Pepo’s Funland, threw basketballs in a hoop, got their faces painted and ran through a bouncy castle. Still other vendors sold toys, Spanish flags and hats.

“I am excited. This is great that we are able to have our first Latin Festival,” said Carmelo Rodriguez of the New Britain Latino Coalition. “We are very excited. We have over 1,000 people here. Thanks to the coalition and the faith community, Mayor Erin Stewart, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown District and different business, it came together. Everyone is already asking to prepare for next year. The most important thing is we have families here and they are having a great time.”

Vendors at information booths said they were quite busy.

“We had a few dozen register to vote today,” said Republican Registrar of Voters Peter Gostin. “It’s been a good day.”

“We are raffling off a free membership for one month as we just merged with the Meriden YMCA,” said Desiree Agosta of the New Britain YMCA. “We have so much more to offer. We have programs for little, little people to programs for older people.”

The goal of the festival is to partner with organizations that are committed to improving the wellbeing and quality of life of the citizens of the City.

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Across town at Falcon’s Field there were plenty to do at the Dozynki Festival as Polish food, Polish music, Polska clothing and a farmer’s market filled the area. Food specials included pierogies four for $5 or galombki 2 for $5. Belvidere Restaurant had a pick three items for $10. Connecticut United Soccer Team presented Connecticut United Lager, the beer of the soccer team in cans at the event.

The Falcon Banquet Hall set the stage Saturday morning for Monsignor Daniel Plocharczyk of Sacred Heart as the main celebrant of the opening mass ceremony.

This year, The Polish American Foundation was honored for its immigrant and heritage hall of fame. The group also is involved with festivals, sponsors bands and groups as well.

A number of events followed including the first ever “Polonia Ma Talent” (Polish have talent) Show. The opening act included a woman making the biggest pierogi ever while dancing. Another act included singing a philosophy on marriage. Another group danced and there were also several comedy sketches.

Every year in Poland when the harvest is complete, residents celebrate and thank God for a good bounty. This weekend people came together at the Falcon’s Field on Farmington Ave. to celebrate the harvest. This was the 36th year for the Dozynki Festival and is under the direction of Lucian Pawlak.