Best Local Festival

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura is joined by sports mascots at the International Polka Parade at Pierogi Fest.

John J. Watkins, file, The Times

Pierogi Fest

Location: 119th St. from Indianapolis Boulevard to Schrage Avenue, Whiting

Phone: 219-659-0292

Pierogi Fest is one of the largest events in the state of Indiana, drawing more than 300,000 people to the festival that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

“We take the planning of the festival seriously, but the festival itself is tongue-in-cheek fun,” says Tom Dabertin, chairman of the festival. “People really respond to that, and people love it because it reminds them of their childhood. We have changes planned for 2017 to keep it fun and current. We want things to be fresh year after year.”

The festival has been recognized by numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Trip Advisor, Food Network, Saveur magazine, and the Travel Channel, to name a few, Dabertin says.

“It’s wonderful to be honored, and a real challenge to step up and meet the expectations of all the people who are coming to the festival,” he says.

Dabertin is also proud of the festival’s safety record; in 2016, not one arrest was made, he says.

Some of the planned changes for this year include an expanded area for tween attendees, an expanded and relocated arts and crafts area, a Wine O Cheese garden, and a family beer garden area.

“This festival is purely run by volunteers,” he says. “It takes 400 people to organize the fest, and we have a lot of fun with it.”


Lake County Fair

Location: 889 S. Court St., Crown Point

Phone: 219-663-3617


Popcorn Festival

Location: 150 W. Lincolnway, Valparaiso

Phone: 219-464-8332