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Kielbasa, pierogi and golabki ? oh my!

Polish Festival on tap for today highlights tradition
By: Michelle Flory, Special to the Press-Tribune
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The Polish American Club is hosting the 18th annual Polish Festival today. The festivities, held at the club's hall - 327 Main St. in Roseville - will begin at noon and continue until 7 pm. Admission is free and entertainment and good food will be available in mass quantities. So, make sure to stop by and join in on the fun. "It's always been a successful event. People come from all over. We've drawn people from as far as San Francisco and Tahoe. It seems people really seek out a connection to their heritage and that is what we're all about - promoting and preserving the Polish traditions" said Michelle White, a member of the club. The continuous entertainment of the day will include live performances by a Polka band, Polka Power America. There will also be traditional polka dancing, costumed folk performers, cultural displays, artifacts and handmade items for purchase, as well as activities and crafts for the children. And let's not forget to mention the food - traditional, homemade, old-fashioned Polish cuisine, made by members of the club, will be available. The menu will include kielbasa, pierogi (stuffed dumpling), golabki (cabbage rolls), potato pancakes and rye bread, to name just a few. Couple this amazing meal with an authentic cold Polish beer and really what more could you ask for? Dessert, maybe? Well, no problem, they've got that covered as well. Just visit the pastry booth and your sweet tooth will be satisfied with a variety of traditional pastries and desserts. "We've served as many as 800 dinners," said Betty Paprocki. She and her husband, Walt, have been members of the club since 1967. "I've participated in all 18 festivals," she continued. "This year I'm in charge of the kitchen and I'm helping with all the cooking. It's a huge project, but I have a lot of help from my dear children, as well as a large group of members and friends that help with all the preparations." In October, the Polish Club will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of purchasing the hall. In 1987, members purchased the dilapidated building and through the donations of time, labor, and money from a sincere, dedicated, group of members they were able to transform the eye sore into a facility that they still look to with pride. "Our hall is a representation of a culmination of countless hours of blood, sweat and, at times, even tears," said Paprocki. "We started with approximately 70 members and now we have around 250 members. It just goes to show that small beginnings can bring forth great results." The Club is a small, but tight-knit, group. As the representatives for the Polish community in the greater Sacramento area, they play a huge role in preserving the traditions of their heritage. Members participate in countless activities and fundraisers including Sun. afternoon family dinners, monthly gatherings, traditional holiday celebrations and Polka dance instruction. "One very successful fundraiser has been the creation and publication of a Polish cookbook. Distribution and publicity is very wide spread. We've had order requests from as far as the East Coast," said Paprocki. With success like that, it's obvious that Polish cuisine is a big hit. But, its more than the fried pierogi that bring people out to this lively, colorful festival, it's the family atmosphere. It's the celebration of culture, whether it is your own or not. It's the feeling of connection.