by CESAR SALAZAR
Although some may find Smaczne Jabłka (smahtch-NEE jah-BUL-kah) difficult to pronounce, the idea of eating tasty apples and traditional Polish food is an idea people can get behind, and Winona’s Polish Museum plans to do just that. Coming up on October 2, the Polish Museum is planning to hold its annual Smaczne Jabłka (Tasty Apple) Festival to let visitors experience some traditional Polish food, drinks, and pastimes.
The Smaczne Jabłka Festival dates back to 1985 and celebrates Winona’s Polish heritage by focusing on one of Poland’s biggest exports: apples. On top of giving the community a taste of the Polish lifestyle, the festival also serves as a fundraiser for the Polish Museum. The festival was not held for the past two years due to the COVID pandemic, and organizers plan to make up for the lost time. The festival will feature live music, a variety of Polish food, arts and crafts, a silent auction, museum founder Father Paul Breza’s apples from his orchard, and much more.
“We’re actually hoping that this year, we’re doing things a bit differently,” Museum Manager Adam Pingot said in an interview. “Usually, we’ll have a lot of things in the alley, but this year it’s actually going to be on Second Street. We’re going to have part of Second Street closed off and vendor booths and food will be down there.” Museum Assistant Alex Zemla explained that Second Street will be closed for the festival between Liberty and Chestnut streets.
The festival will host its yearly silent auction, featuring about 200 baskets to choose from, according to Breza. Pingot added that local organizations responded well with donations for the event, tying the event back to its community roots. “It’s really nice to see that people still care,” Pingot said.
Some of the live music planned to be featured includes The Wing Dam Jammers and some traditional Polka music. “That’s obligatory for a Polish fest,” Zemla added.
The food at the festival will highlight some of Poland’s traditional food as well as its peasant food, according to Breza and Pingot. “[It’s] food that we ate when we first came to Winona,” Breza said. “It would be like noodle soup, turtle stew, and ciszka.” Breza explained that ciszka is grits bologna.
Among its better-known foods, the festival will also feature traditional Polish pierogies, gołąbki, and potato pancakes, using Zemla’s mother’s recipe. There will also be apple pies, apple turnovers, and apple cider from Breza’s apple orchard as well as ice cream, bratwursts, and Żywiec, a Polish beer.
The festival is tentatively planned to be held on October 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Polish Museum.
“It’s a way to celebrate the community in Winona,” Zemla said. “A lot of the community is Polish folks, and in that regard, having it be a Polish fest in a way, it’s not exclusive to Polish people … I want other people to experience that too — experiencing the Polish hospitality and enjoying a lot of the food because Polish food is great, and we’re not going to shy away from that.”