If you are attending this year’s 7th Annual Little Poland Festival on Sunday you will have an extra hour of fun as the event has been extended to 7 p.m. You can spend that extra time dancing, drinking, eating, enjoying arts and crafts or riding the carnival rides as Broad Street will be filled with over 20,000 people enjoying all that New Britain’s Little Poland has to offer.
The Little Poland Festival was first held in 2012 to celebrate Polish culture and heritage and to highlight the city’s Polish neighborhood known as Little Poland. Over the years, the festival grew from 600 participants to over 20,000 who attended last year, many traveling to New Britain for the event from across New England and beyond.
According to Organizer Lucian Pawlak, the festival has become well-known along the Eastern Seaboard.
“This year a family is coming up from Florida and spending the weekend in New Britain just for the festival. Last year we had a family from North Carolina,” said Pawlak. “This year there are two vendors from Pennsylvania and someone flying in from Chicago to promote their products. People are talking about this festival.”
The Little Poland Festival is the highlight of the local Polish calendar and attracts a diverse crowd looking to experience great food, fantastic entertainment and have an overall good time at the first local outdoor festival of the season.
This year’s lineup includes DYM band from New York, Gypsy Dream, Kasia Kordek, Lori Ann Body Construct, Miss Polonia Connecticut, Olivia Rutkowski, Paczki eating contest, Piotr Olejniczak & Guests, POLANIE Polish Folk Dancers, Polish Language School, Raspberry Goats with Ola Majka, RBO Polka Band and The Polish Scouts.
The carnival portion lasts three days Friday (starts at 5 p.m.), Saturday (starts at 4 p.m.) and Sunday (opens at 10 a.m.)
The festival cost $35,000 to be put together.
“It’s difficult to raise that money. We even considered not doing it this year,” said Pawlak. “But we have 75 vendors signed up. We have a Polish Mountain group coming with a unique way of speaking Polish.”
Vendors are coming from Maine, New York and New Jersey.
“We wanted to extend it but it would cost us $4,000-$5,000 in police forces,” said Pawlak.
Major sponsors this year are Sam’s Food Stores and UConn Health.
“The event promotes Broad Street and New Britain. It shows a community that is really alive. We have people strolling up and down the street taking pictures and talking about Little Poland,” said Pawlak. “Who would have thought we would be written up in the New York Times and Harvard Magazine? It really is a model for communities.”
On Sunday expect to see a bit of everything including magicians, balloon twisters and violin players roaming the streets throughout the festival. Polka bands, blues bands and rock bands will keep the crowds buzzing.
The festival will recognize the 100th anniversary of Polish independence with a visit from the consul general from the Polish Consulate in New York. It will also unofficially honor the 10th anniversary of the city renaming the Broad Street area “Little Poland”.
For more information, go to www.Littlepolandfest.com. To donate to the festival go to https://www.gofundme.com/2018-little-poland-festival-booster.