Carol Pevovar and Fred Rgnonti (foreground) danced during last year’s Smaczne Jablka, the Polish apple festival at the Winona Polish Museum.
by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Mums and decorative scarecrows are on doorsteps, and pumpkins are available at seemingly every grocery store and farm stand. It is fall, and in Winona, the Smaczne Jablka (Tasty Apple) Festival, an annual event held by the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum to celebrate the town’s Polish traditions and the apple harvest, is a treasured part of the season.
This year, the festival will take place on October 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum. There is no charge to attend, and many of the festival’s offerings will be free, Paul Hunziker, a Tasty Apple Festival Committee member and a Polish Cultural Institute and Museum volunteer who gives tours there, said.
“We want everyone to be able to come and participate,” Hunziker said.
Traditional Polish dishes including ciszka (buckwheat grits), czarnina (duck blood soup), kielbasa (sausage) and pierogi (filled dumplings) will be available, Hunziker explained. Other foods, such as coffee cake, will be prepared as well.
Hunziker said that to learn more about Polish culture and heritage, attendees will be able to check in regarding their genealogy and family history and view new museum pieces related to the Solidarity movement that began in Poland around 1980.
In relation to apples, there will be about 72 apple pies, 14 trays of apple crisp and five to six varieties of apples, as well as caramel apples and fresh-squeezed apple juice, at the festival, Hunziker said. Approximately 10 to 12 volunteers will bake the pies and the crisps.
Hunziker said the festival will also feature a silent auction, a raffle and cash prizes. Attendees will additionally be able to watch a guild of spinners and weavers practice their craft, listen to a children’s choir, dance as a polka band plays, see Polish sheepdogs and Norwegian fjord horses and browse around an area with handmade goods from local vendors, among other activities. For younger attendees, there will be art projects and Polish children’s cartoons.
Planning for the festival has been taking place for several months, and about a few dozen volunteers have been helping with organizing festival activities, Hunziker explained. The Winona community has also assisted with bringing the festival to fruition.
“For our silent auction, we go through the city, from one end to the other, and just make [donation] requests, and … the businesses are just incredibly generous in helping us with the silent auction, and with the raffle, and I can’t tell you how grateful we are for that,” Hunziker said. “Besides businesses making donations, there are … just so many businesses that have offered assistance as sponsors.”
Hunziker said he feels the festival is a proper way to try to pay tribute to the original Polish community of Winona.
“When I give tours here [at the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum], I talk about the original settlers and how they created this community on the east end of Winona,” Hunziker explained. “They were just common folks … and none of them had much, but when they got together, they brought what they had and shared it, and that’s basically what we do too,” Hunziker said.
Hunziker said there will be a number of events in 2020 to celebrate Winona’s Polish heritage.
“The city of Winona is inviting its sister city, Bytów [Poland], to celebrate the Kashubian Centennial,” Hunziker stated, “so every month next year, there will be events celebrating the Polish community that built Winona, and there will be dignitaries here on several occasions.”