Sarah Kuzbiel, left, Adam Steczko and Amanda Kuzbiel, members of the Denver-based folk dance group Krakoviacy perform on Saturday before more than 1,000 people at the fifth annual Pierogi Festival at St. Marguerite d’Youville Church in Lawrenceville. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Jennifer Armstrong’s mother, who makes homemade pierogies in Florida, was jealous on Saturday.
Because she lives miles away, a T-shirt would have to be a consolation prize for not making the trip.
“I wish I could come this weekend,” Armstrong recalled her mother saying. “Next year, she’s going to come, and we’ll come back.”
Armstrong and her husband, Jeremy, drove from Buford to a large Catholic church in Lawrenceville, St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, where they were among more than 1,000 people who celebrated Polish heritage on Saturday. The fifth annual Pierogi Festival was as lively as ever, as the Polish folk dance group Krakowiacy came from Denver to put on three performances.
In between, festival attendees joined in for Polish Zumba, which was a hit for the crowd.
Armstrong said she has Polish heritage on her mother’s side of the family, and a recipe from her grandmother has been passed down to her, and her sister. Although Armstrong admitted she hasn’t used the recipe yet.
“There’s a lot of pinching periogies, that I just don’t have the patience for,” she said. “My mother usually makes some a couple of times of year, and then freezes them and we pull them out of the freezer when we want.”
Added Jeremy, “It’s a lot of manual labor.”
The crowd size, and number of people speaking German and Polish surprised the Armstrongs, they said.
Peter Grondalski, a member of the Krakowiacy dance group, danced at the festival for the second straight year, and said it’s the group’s third visit. They wore three costumes on Saturday, a nod to differences in types of dance throughout Poland.
“It’s best to show how different regions of the country dance,” he said.
The popularity of the event caused organizers to order about 12,000 pierogies — dumplings filled with meat, potatoes, cheese and sauerkraut — to go along with fried onions, bacon and sour cream. There was also golabki, which are lightly boiled cabbage leaves filled with meat and chopped onions, and Polish kielbasa.
Under sun-splashed skies, people of all ages were also entertained by inflatables, and farm animals courtest of an Alabama family with Polish roots.
“The weather is really helping out,” festival organizer Maria Adamczyk said. “People were seeing the nice weather, and they’re starting to come out. It just seems like a big hit, everybody is getting involved. We try to get people involved in the activities, so it’s not passive.”