Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hamtramck's Polish Festival is the Place to Be!

My toes are still tapping. My ears are still ringing a bit. And "Who Stole the Kiszka?" is running through my mind. And so is Pink Floyd music adapted as Polkas. No, I'm not kidding. (Read down to the end to find out more.)

I had a great time today at Hamtramck's Polish Festival. For those not from the area, Hamtramck is a city within the city of Detroit that has a long history as a Polish community. These days the population is very blended with a number of ethnic groups represented. But it remains the primary community that comes to mind when people think of Detroit Polonia. It maintains a strong Polish influence in its store fronts, restaurants, and Polonia events.

Hamtramck's mayor is very Polish! In addition to her mayoral duties, Karen Majewski Ph. D., is an Associate Professor of Polish and East Central European Studies at Orchard Lake St. Mary's College and Executive Director of the Polish American Historical Association. And... she's got to be the dancing-ist mayor in all of the country! Karen rarely sits out a Polka or Waltz and you will see her dancing in the final rounds of the Polka dance competition held at the festival this afternoon. She's a great friend to Detroit Polonia!

After listening to some great Polka music (by the Kielbasa Kings, Big Daddy Laskowski, and the Misty Blues), I walked down to the Eden Polish Bookstore. This charming little store is packed with lots of imported Polish items. I bought an amber scented candle wrapped in amber that's just gorgeous. Then I walked back up Jos Campau and had lunch at my favorite Polish restaurant in Hamtramck, Polonia Restaurant. You can see the Polish Plate that I ordered... it was delicious :-)

Then I had to walk off all that great Polish food so I headed to the Polish Art Center. I hadn't been there in a while and I was tickled to see that they'd expanded. I walked around the store looking at all sorts of great Polish imports (you can see the beautiful Polish cut glass piece in the store window in my Slide show). I fell in love with their collection of imported beaded wood necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. The pieces are all made from Hazelnut wood from the area of Poland near Zakopane. It was tough to choose but with some much appreciated help from store owner Joan Bittner and her daughter I bought a few pieces for myself and for my daughter (shhh... it's a Christmas present, don't tell her!).

I chatted with Joan for a bit, she's a great source of information about what's happening in Detroit's Polonia community. And it turns out, she's have a book signing next week Thursday... for her own cookbook! Well, OK, the recipes aren't all hers but they are hers and her friends and family's recipes. And guess what? They're all cookie recipes! Joan was kind enough to sign a copy of her book, Sweet Traditions, for me and if you ask her nicely she'll sign a copy for you too.

Enough shopping, time for some dessert! I walked up to the New Palace Bakery and bought a Seven Sisters cake, a traditional layer cake (7 layers) found in Polish bakeries. My mom used to buy these cakes for us when I was a kid and I always loved them. I had a slice to eat and had them box up the rest to bring home.

Then it was back to the music stage for some great Polka music and Polish beer (Okocim!). I took some more pictures (I love people watching) and some video and enjoyed the sunshine, blue skies, summer breeze, and Polka music. And I thought of Craig putting the COG together and felt just a little guilty that I was out enjoying myself while he was working away. Thanks for hosting the COG for me Craig and giving me this chance to have a day to touch base with my Polish roots. It was wonderful!

Now here are a couple segments of video I took with my little digital camera. It's not the best quality but I haven't yet figured out how get better quality video posted on YouTube. So this is the best I could do.

Here's Part 1

Here's Part 2

If that's not enough Polka music for you, I'm going to give you a special treat. If you go to this MySpace page you can hear Pink Floyd music adapted as Polkas. I kid you not! It's hilarious! Check it out. It's by a band called The Polka Floyd Show who will be appearing live at the Hamtramck Festival tomorrow.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!