Taking place in Whiting, Indiana, Pierogi Fest® celebrates Eastern European food and culture with a wacky familial twist.
This year’s party runs July 27-29.
Pierogi Fest® is organized annually by the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce and is the pride of Whiting. Drawing almost 300,000 visitors each year, it is the third largest festival in the state of Indiana. Each year, the fest features long running favorites, including the wacky Polka Parade, Mr. Pierogi® and friends, more food vendors than the Taste, specialty and arts and crafts vendors, beer and wine gardens, games, daily entertainment and fun for all ages!
Pierogi Fest® welcomes all to celebrate Eastern European heritage while poking a little fun at the same time. Where else can you see grown women dressed up like their grandmothers (buscias, as they say) in housecoats and babushkas? Or a lawnmower brigade strutting through town with sandals and socks on like their dads did? You’ll also see life-size polish pastries and goodies walking and talking waiting to take a picture with you.
Pierogi Fest® began when Marty Dybel, Tom Dabertin and Darlene Beerling sat down one afternoon to discuss Marty’s idea to creating a festival that celebrated Whiting-Robertsdale’s ethnic heritage, including family memories, customs and food. It was decided it would be a real honor to their ancestors to celebrate and retain part of that special heritage. All they needed was a symbol to pin it on. That symbol was the innocent and darling little Eastern European dumpling: the pierogi (or pirohi, depending on your grandma). Some people still trill the “r” when they say it, just like buscia and jaja did.
But, if you ask Mr. Pierogi®, the story of Pierogi Fest’s® origins are a little different.
“I remember it differently than a group of people sitting around reminiscing about their grandmothers,” Mr. Pierogi® says. “You see, back in the mid 1990s my wife, the beautiful Mrs. Pierogi left me for Mr. Kielbasa, for what many think are obvious reasons. I was so depressed about the incident that the town of Whiting gathered around to help ease my sorrows. In what some might consider effigy, I burned her likeness, and found that the little buggers were actually quite tasty. The town’s folk had such a good time that they decided to make the party a yearly event.”
No matter the tale, Pierogi Fest brings wonderfully weird and wacky fun to Whiting’s 119th street each July.