Whiting's Pierogi Fest takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday and has once again gained national notoriety.

Via the Internet, this wacky weekend was named among the "14 Summer Food Festivals You Won’t Believe Exist." The internet's Buzz Feed Food introduced its readers to food festivals as varied as the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, Hawaii's Spam Jam and Testy Festy, the annual celebration of Rocky Mountain Oysters (Heaven forbid we imagine that mascot!) and what sounds as bizarre as our own Pierogi Fest, the RC & Moon Pie Festival in Tennessee.

This year is Pierogi Fest's 20th anniversary. Throughout the two decades, Whiting's pride and joy has been featured on TV's Travel Channel, Food Channel, Channel 11's Wild Chicago, Oprah's list of Summer Festivals, all the Chicago morning news programs and even in "Women's World," where Mr. Pierogi was pictured along with the Tower of London in a feature on the magazine's "places to go" for a summer vacation.

It has been chosen time and again as The Times' "Best of the Region" Best Fest.

My all-time favorite recognition, though, happened in year six when "Saveur," a food and wine magazine, featured Pierogi Fest. Back then, the price of a single issue would have bought you a pierogi plate including a halupki and sausage.

It was impressive that this award-winning gourmet magazine featured pierogi, the food of Eastern European peasants. It really swung our little dumpling up a couple of rungs on the food chain.

Pierogi Fest runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Sunday. The Pierogi Parade begins at 7 p.m. Friday evening, but there has been a change in the route, which will now continue down 119th Street to New York Avenue. That gives parade goers an extra block of viewing space.

Check out this week's festival details at www.pierogifest.net.

With pierogi in hand and tongue in cheek, Whiting's folks are particularly proud of our bizarre and beloved hometown ethnic festival. While it's filled with music, entertainment, every ethnic food possible and tons of fun features such as the Buscias, the Pieroguettes and Mr. Pierogi, there are so many great stories about our visitors.

I'll never forget the man who brought his 90-plus father all the way from Pennsylvania to Pierogi Fest. He said that in the suburb where they lived, no one spoke Polish and the one thing his dad wanted to do before he died was talk to someone in his native tongue.

The old gentleman found himself spending many hours talking to food vendors from Poland. By the time he left, he was delighted and his last wish had been fulfilled.

Mr. Pierogi also told me about a grandma who said she came just to meet him. It was her first and last Pierogi Fest, and when her daughter met up with Mr. Pierogi the next year, she said it had been one of her mother's last good times.

So come to Pierogi Fest, where they make pierogies hot and lasting memories that are sweet and warm.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at puccini99@aol.com.


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