A week from tomorrow, starting at 11 a.m. July 26, begins the Whiting event that's "stuffed with fun," Pierogi Fest. This is the 19th annual Pierogi Fest here in our little city. And this year yet another tribute has been added to its history. It was recently named to the top 10 list of Bizarre festivities compiled by global travel website Trip Advisor. I believe that this is actually the second time it's been listed with the website known for its strange little gnome.
Oprah listed it on her places to go in the summer a few years ago, Mr. Pierogi appeared in the popular checkout stand magazine "Woman's World" and even got a paragraph all to itself in Saveur, the "definitive culinary magazine." That was an incredible boost in Pierogi Fest's early days.
Pierogi Fest has been on Channel 11's "Wild Chicago" and a picture of Mr. Pierogi himself is on the back cover of their book. The fest has been celebrated on the Travel Channel and on the Food Channel as well as on news in China.
Now I've heard that the festival will be the focus of an online show on Yahoo called "Blue Ribbon Hunter." It's always been amazing to me, and I was in the Pierogi trenches at one time, how people outside of the region hear about what was once a quiet little hometown three day event. But believe me when I tell you that people from all over the world have come to Pierogi Fest and absolutely loved it.
This year you'll want to be on hand for the wacky parade that begins at 7 p.m. and starts at Clark High School and continues all the way down 119th Street. It's incredibly crowded so take my personal trip advice and get there early.
On Saturday, the Buscia's will hold their annual Cooking Show at 11 a.m. and at 1 you'll find Mr. Pierogi and his Pieroguettes and a number of other guests performing in the Mr. Pierogi Songfest. Both events will take place at the main stage near City Hall.
At 2 on Saturday and noon on Sunday will be the International Dancers. These young ethnic folk dancers are truly amazing. Their costumes will blow you away and they're accompanied by live musicians, not a tape These colorful Slovak dancers are from the Sardesi in Detroit, the Vychodna in Toronto and the Veselice troupe from Chicago.
The Pierogi Toss Contest is at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Pierogi Eating Contest right near City Hall. These popular events have been held every year, even before there was a Mr. Pierogi. And throughout the festival will be bands and polka music galore.
If you ever wanted to visit with anybody from Whiting, come on down because you'll find them at Pierogi Fest somewhere. It's a great source of pride for people here and a chance to show off our beautiful downtown, our stores and most importantly our people who will welcome you with open hearts and a plateful of the little stuffed dumplings that have made Whiting so famous.