by Mary Rupert
Volunteers were busy today getting everything ready for the 35th annual Polski Day on Saturday, May 4, at All Saints Catholic Church, 8th and Vermont, Kansas City, Kansas.
A small group of volunteers got tables and items ready for the annual celebration. Most of the volunteers were different generations in the Kolenda family, said Cathy Kolenda-Smith.
Cathy Kolenda-Smith, who is in charge of the festival, was busy in the kitchen and around the church hall, while her mother, Betty Kolenda, was working with food at one of the main tables. Saracyewski Smith, Cathy’s daughter, was working at the T-shirt table this morning.
The T-shirts at the table read, “Polish American and Proud,” “Polish Hill, Kansas City, Ks,” and “Polski Day, Polish Hill, KCK.”
Polski Day commemorates the day that the Polish Constitution of Freedom was signed on May 3, 1791, and it celebrates Polish heritage and traditions.
Kolenda-Smith said that as the years go by, it has become more difficult to find volunteers, especially volunteers who can cook the authentic Polish food that is served at the festival.
“We love our Polish heritage, it’s just so hard to find volunteers,” Kolenda-Smith said. “When we first started Polski Day, there were 21 people on the committee, now there are eight. I absolutely love doing this, but we need more people.”
Kolenda-Smith said on Thursday they cooked 280 pounds of Polish sausage and 350 pounds of sauerkraut to get ready for Polski Day. It has become second-nature to her to cook these specialties, she said. She has been in charge of the festival for about 15 years and working with it for 31 years.
Also on the Polski Day menu are golambki (cabbage rolls), pierogi, hot dogs, povitica, apple strudel, pohancie and cookies, and other items.
Most of the recipes for Polish foods served at Polski Day are on the website at https://polskiday.com/, she said, although she has cooked these dishes so long that she doesn’t need the recipes herself.
This year’s festival is dedicated to Mary Slezak Stark, one of the original founders of the KCK Polski Day, who died in 2018.
Proceeds from Polski Day go toward All Saints Church.
The festival on Saturday will include a parade that begins at 11 a.m. at 12th and Central Avenue and proceeds east to 8th Street, then to Vermont, ending at 8th and Vermont at All Saints Church, formerly known as St. Joseph’s Church at 811 Vermont. This year’s parade marshal is Ethel Golubski.
A festival will be held at the parish hall and grounds, with food service beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. There will be ethnic foods, beverages, dancing and children’s activities until 4 p.m. An online auction will be held in conjunction with Polski Day.
From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. inside the church hall, the Brian McCarty Band will perform, and from 3 to 6:30 p.m., Sheelytown Band is scheduled.
Outdoors, Sheelytown will perform from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the Brian McCarty Band will perform from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
A Polka Mass will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at All Saints Church. The Good Shepherd Church Choir, directed by John Rudzinski, will be featured. Special guests will be Sylvia Stoner, soprano, and Wayne Hawkins, pianist.