BRISTOL – Over the weekend, the beginning of autumn was celebrated at the top of West Street.
St. Stanislaus Church’s annual Dozynki Autumn Harvest Festival enticed visitors with homemade Polish food and fun, both Saturday and Sunday.
“Everything is made from scratch, right here in the church,” said Irene Grabowy, proudly holding up a to-go container of pierogi, golabki, potato pancakes, and a slice of fresh bread.
Church volunteers made 6,000 pierogi of three varieties to sell at the festival: potato and cheese, sauerkraut, and regular cheese. They also made Polish desserts like angel wings, which sold out quickly. When the festival opened for its second day on Sunday, only a few boxes were left.
“We hardly ever have anything left,” Grabowy pointed out to the festival’s food, which is definitely the main draw.
St. Stan’s Dozynki has been going on since 1990, according to co-chair Fred Sellberg. It started under the clergy of Fr. Brian Shaw.
“We didn’t have it in 2020 and that changed everything,” Sellberg said. “It reduced the crowds and now fewer people volunteer.”
The food line used to run across the parking lot at the back of St. Stan, but on weekends there were only a few people waiting.
“It was a difficult year,” Sellberg said. “I think it’s because of inflation, or people are busy.”
As soon as the festival ended on Sunday, volunteers were already thinking about next fall.
“We usually start planning right after we’re done,” said co-chair Jennifer LaCart. “We find out what needs to change or adjust and move on from there.”
A special part of the event that the community has come to know and love is the tag sale.
“It’s great,” said Donna Bruzas, one of the core volunteers who helps collect, set up, and sell donated items.
“People are very generous, very helpful and very grateful,” she added.
On Sunday at 2 p.m., what was still under and around the sales tents was available for the taking.
Volunteers have donated many items to area organizations serving the homeless and veterans.
They also donated clothes and household items to a family in need from Afghanistan and another from the UK.
“We make friends and they come back year after year,” explains Bruzas. “They are so grateful. It just makes us feel good.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.