The sights, sounds and smells of Polish heritage will once again fill the St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church on Niagara Street as the 24th annual St. Stan’s Polish Heritage Day celebration commences Sunday.

This year’s festival will be smaller in scale than years past and has been shortened from a weekend-long affair to a one-day event because the land that it was previously held on is now being used to construct the new Niagara Street School.

“It’s not like when we had two days. Almost all of the land we used for the festival has been sold to the school district,” said Bob Drozdowski, chairperson for the event.

Space is also a problem.

“More used to be outside but not this year, because of construction,” said Reverend Slawomir Siok.

Although the celebration will be smaller in size, it won’t lack the festive substance that has made it such a strong tradition in the Falls.

The day will begin with a Polish-American polka folk mass at 11:15 a.m. inside the church, with the band City Side providing music. The rest of the day features live music, a silent auction, children’s games, cash and merchandise raffles, homemade Polish delicacies and dancing.

“It’s fun for the parish and the people who live in the area,” Drozdowski said.

The celebration, which runs until 10 p.m., is one of the most popular heritage festivals in the region and has traditionally drawn in a crowd from all parts of the country.

“We get people from all over the place, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida,” Drozdowski said.

Food, live music and dancing will all be located in the parish hall. A few tents will be outside to accommodate an auction of over 50 baskets, a homemade bake sale and children’s games.

Inside, an assortment of homemade Polish foods will be available, including such favorites as pierogi, golembki, kielbasa and kapusta. There will also be a full bar serving up beer, soda and wine.

Dinners for this year’s event will be available beginning at noon and will be sold until they run out — which is usually early.

“We sold over 600 dinners last year and we ran out at 5 p.m.,” Drozdowski said.

The tradition of the Polish heritage day at St. Stan’s is set to continue next year in celebration of the 25th anniversary. Both Siok and Drozdowski hope that it can return to a larger, two-day event.

“We would like to have a big polka festival next year for the 25th anniversary,” Siok said.

“We hope to have an agreement (with the school district) to use the grounds adjacent to the church so we can return to a bigger festival,” adds Drozdowski. “This is a tradition that the parish is looking forward to continuing on a grand scale for many years to come in support of our church.”

If you go

n WHEN: 11:15 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

n WHERE: St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church (St. Stan’s), 2437 Niagara Street

n MORE INFO: Open to the public. Admission is $3 for adults, free for children under 16 accompanied by paying adult. Dinners can be purchased for $8 and include desert and coffee.

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