JEFFERSON PARK — An estimated 30,000 people are expected to flock to downtown Jefferson Park over the Labor Day weekend for Taste of Polonia, the largest festival of Polish food, culture and beer in North America.
Nearly 40 bands are expected to play on three stages during the four-day festival that starts at 5 p.m. Friday at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
Each day of the festival will begin with one of the seven Polka bands scheduled to make an appearance at the 34th annual fundraiser for the Copernicus Center, which is which is dedicated to preserving and promoting Polish culture.
Heather Cherone says it's way more than polka and pierogies, though there will be plenty of both:
But Copernicus Center Executive Director Gregg Kobelinski promises something for every music lover — including world music, reggae, classic rock, kid-friendly music and dance-friendly disc jockeys.
"There is going to be so much going on," Kobelinski said. "We really try to appeal to all elements of the community."
The stage inside the center will showcase Polish culture, with performances by a symphony and choir, Kobelinski said.
This year's festival will feature an expanded kids stage with a variety of musical and dance acts — as well as a bounce-house village that promises to keep the little ones occupied while their adults sample Polish food from 14 restaurants. Admission to the kids village is $5.
Many booths will serve Polish beer and pierogies, which are potato-stuffed dumplings of unleavened dough that are first boiled, then baked or fried in butter with onions. Sometimes pierogies are stuffed with sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese or fruit.
A midway through the festival will allow merchants to sell their Polish-themed merchandise and crafts, Kobelinski said.
"Our fest is really family oriented to reflect the Jefferson Park neighborhood," Kobelinski said.
Taste of Polonia will take place from 5-10:30 p.m. Friday; noon-10:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday and from noon-10 p.m. Monday.
Admission to the festival is $7 for adults. Children 12 and younger are free.
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