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Media to shower coverage on Pierogi Fest this year

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Media to shower coverage on Pierogi Fest this year

Joseph Abenante, right, of Whiting, can't come up with the catch for a greased pierog as competitor Benny Wright, of Portage, looks on during Pierogi Fest's pierogi toss competition in Whiting last year. 

WHITING — The Region knows how to throw a party, as anyone who's been to the crowded streets of downtown Whiting during Pierogi Fest can attest.

This year, the world will know.

At least 10 television stations are expected to come out to cover Pierogi Fest this weekend.

"It will be covered by CBS Worldwide, which reaches up to 1.8 billion viewers around the globe," organizer Tom Dabertin said. "This is one of the most covered festivals in the Midwest in terms of media coverage."

CBS 2, ABC 7 and Fox Chicago all plan to cover Pierogi Fest live this year, he said. WGN and NBC also plan to send reporters to film footage.

"We've got commitments from the Chicago news media, of course," Dabertin said. "We've become a fun, attractive event for such a wide audience. The media realizes we're a fun place to be with good family entertainment."

The wild and wacky weekend-long celebration of the Polish dumpling and Northwest Indiana's ethnic roots has garnered widespread media coverage over the years, including from the Food Network, the Travel Channel, PBS's "Wild Travels," CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, TripAdvisor and Oprah Winfrey. It's also gotten international news coverage, including in Poland, Slovakia and Germany.

More than 70 food vendors will sell more than 1,200 food items, including every variety of pierogi one can think of.

This year, Pierogi Fest added a new main stage at 119th Street and White Oak Avenue. In addition to pierogi, halupki, Polish sausage and other Polish fare, it will have 50 live acts on six entertainment stages.

Performers will include the Ron Smolen Polka Band, the Eddie Wojcik Orchestra, Nomad Planets, the MuddSharks, Jessi & The Fizz and ABBA tribute band Dancing Queen.

Six String Soldiers, a band of active-duty U.S. Army soldiers, will play on the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Part of the U.S. Army Field Band, the group performs country, folk and bluegrass, including on television shows like "Conan," "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," "Morning Express with Robin Meade" and "Harry with Harry Connick, Jr.

Allie Sealey, a headliner at the Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge on Honkey Tonk Highway across from the Ryman in Nashville, will perform rock, country and original songs with her band at 8 p.m. on the main stage Saturday.

"They're known to get people on their feet," Dabertin said. 

Pierogi Fest takes place in downtown Whiting from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information or a full schedule of performers, visit pierogifest.net.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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