Polish Fest begins lakefront ethnic season Friday

By TimeOut Staff

June 15, 2017

Dancing the polka is a part of Polish Fest, which kicks off Friday.
CREDIT: Polish Fest

WAUKESHA - The Summerfest grounds’ ethnic festivals kick off with Polish Fest running Friday through Sunday.

There will be plenty of things Polish, including the sausage and the polkas on the Non-stop Polka Stage. But there will be plenty of other food and entertainment, such as the Whiskey Bells at 7 p.m. Friday on the Miller Stage.

There are also lots of cultural opportunities, including the annual Chopin Youth Piano Competition, not to mention the Chopin Vodka Experience.

The Culture Area Exhibit will include local historians speaking about Milwaukee’s rich Polish past. Among the Polish Forum presentations will be Kosciuszko from Three Perspectives at 2 p.m. Sunday, with presenters author John Gurda, Kosciuszko monument Restoration Committee Chairman Claude Krawczyk and historian Angela Pienko.

There will be folk art demonstrations, such as egg decorating (pisanki). The food demonstration include Anne Wal showing how to make the perfect pierogi at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, to name one of the delectables.

Polish Fest hours are from noon to midnight Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. Sunday for the 10:15 Mass (free admission).

Gate tickets are $12, $10 for 55 and older, and free for 15 and younger and U.S. military (active or retired). Specials includes 50-cent admission from noon to 5 p.m. and $5 from 5:01 p.m. to midnight Friday and $4 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. Sunday. Three or more donated food items also gets you in free.

Milwaukee’s ethnic festivals (plus Summerfest)

* Summerfest - June 28 through July 2 and July 4 through July 9

While not an ethnic festival, it’s too big to avoid mention in its 50th anniversary year. Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance has evolved into what is now recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival.” It really is a cornerstone summer celebration, with more than 800 bands on 11 stages and 900,000 people.

* Festa Italiana - July 21 through July 23

Festa Italiana was the first ethnic festival to be held at Henry Maier Festival Park. Milwaukee's Italian community hosts this celebration of Italian culture where patrons enjoy world-class performances, both local and national, cook-offs and eating contests, and a wide range of other new events.

* German Fest - July 28 through July 30

With a city known for its German heritage, this is an obvious ethnic festival for Milwaukee. There will be five stages of German music, food, a cultural village, glockenspiel, fireworks, Marktplatz, children’s activities, Model T and Volkswagen clubs, sheepshead, dachshund derby, parades and more.

* Irish Fest - Aug. 17 through Aug. 20

Irish Fest has been part of the Milwaukee community for more than 30 years and the Smithsonian Institution called it “the largest and best Irish cultural event in North America.” It follows its mission statement, which is “to promote and celebrate all aspects of Irish culture and to instill in future generations an appreciation of Irish heritage.”

* Mexican Fiesta - Aug. 25 through Aug. 27

Mexican Fiesta celebrates the sound, culture and taste of Mexico and other Latin American countries each year with three days of fun, food, mariachi and fiesta for everyone. It is a vigorous declaration of community spirit.

* Indian Summer Festival - Sept. 8 through Sept. 10

The mission of Indian Summer Festival is to educate, preserve and promote American Indian cultures and showcase the diversity that exists within tribal cultures. The event features a competition pow wow, cultural demonstrations, traditional food, fine art, lacrosse, Olympic-style amateur boxing, the Indian Summer Music Award Show, a marketplace and both cultural and contemporary entertainment.