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Annual Polish festival draws big crowds

Polish folk dancers with the group Krakowiacy from Denver, Colorado, perform at the fourth annual Pierogi Festival held at St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville on Saturday. The festival featured Polish food, beer folk dancers and live music.

Polish folk dancers with the group Krakowiacy from Denver, Colorado, perform at the fourth annual Pierogi Festival held at St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville on Saturday. The festival featured Polish food, beer folk dancers and live music.

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Lucy Wellborn of Atlanta, dances with Dominik Bednarski of the Polish folk dance group Krakowiacy from Denver, Colorado during the fourth annual Pierogi Festival held at St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville on Saturday. The festival featured Polish food, beer folk dancers and live music.

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Dominika Kaminska sings with the Polish folk group Krakowiacy from Denver, Colorado during the fourth annual Pierogi Festival held at St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville on Saturday. The festival featured Polish food, beer folk dancers and live music.

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Polish folk dancers with the group Krakowiacy, from Denver, Colorado, perform at the fourth annual Pierogi Festival is held at St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville on Saturday. The festival featured Polish food, beer folk dancers and live music.

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Three generations of one family enjoy food offered at the fourth annual Pierogi Festival held at St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville on Saturday. Andrea Kadlub, right, and her children Reagan, 6 and Luke, 3, eat pierogi with the children's grandmother Ann Kadlub, known within her family by the name of Busia, a Polish term for grandmother. The festival featured Polish food, beer folk dancers and live music.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- As the crowds continue to grow, organizers of an annual Polish festival have adapted to the growing popularity.

St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic Church in Lawrenceville hosted its fourth annual Polish Pierogi Festival on a sunsplashed Saturday afternoon. More than 1,000 people attended, and most came for traditional Polish food, live entertainment and a chance to re-connect with second and third generation family heritage.

Krakowiacy, a Polish folk dance group from Denver, performed traditional Polish dances along with live music. The event donated all proceeds go to the Polish Catholic Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Most people attend from around metro Atlanta, but some came from neighboring states since the next closest event of its kind is in Chicago or Florida, organizers said.

"There's no event on this scale in the state of Georgia, I can guarantee that's true," festival organizer Anna Standish said. "There's a huge response from the community that this is a great event. They're very grateful that it's organized and they can come and do this sort of thing."

Along with the entertainment, the event also had booths of Polish souvenirs, magazines, maps and literature about the country, its food and customs.

Attendees rekindled memories of stories parents and grandparents told about Polish pronunciations and traditions.

"A lot of them are second-, sometimes third-generation Polish people and they would like to see a little bit of the folklore; they would like to retouch with their roots," Standish said. "They would like to bring their grandchildren and show them what this is all about, because for many of them, going to Poland is not quite doable, but this is."

Standish said in the festival's first year 5,000 piergois were made, but they were all sold out. This time, they made 11,000 of the boiled dumplings that are filled with meat, potato, cheese or sauerkraut.

About an hour and a half into the event, Standish said volunteers reported they were sold out of tickets.

About 140 volunteers put on the event in two shifts on Saturday to produce the seven-hour festival that had an hour music break from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to hold an English mass in the church.

Al Nosca, a Demorest resident, visited after friends told him about the festival.

"It's a different kind of culture, a different kind of food," said Nosca, who is half-Italian and half-Polish. "They have the dancers here, Polish music outside. We're a mixture of all kinds of country people. We go to Italian festivals, my wife is Korean, so we go to Korean festivals."