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Pierogi Fest to return to downtown Whiting this summer
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Pierogi Fest to return to downtown Whiting this summer

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Get ready to polish off a ton of pierogi in downtown Whiting again this summer.

The festival where everyone is at least honorarily Polish is coming back.

Mr. Pierogi, Miss Paczki, the wise-cracking buscias and the whole eccentric cast of characters are returning to 119th Street in July after a year's hiatus to celebrate Pierogi Fest, the Region's largest and probably best-known summer festival considering the amount of national press it has gotten.

Green Door Books is writing its next chapter. The used bookstore, known for its art shows, $1 books, extensive zine library and namesake green door, is moving to a bigger spot in downtown Hobart after the local chain Toys in the Attic bowed out.

After being called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pierogi Fest will take place from July 23-25 "in the hope of keeping its chairman and co-founder from boredom."

The Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce announced in a cheeky press release that the festival celebrating the humble Polish dumpling and Northwest Indiana's Eastern European ethnic heritage would return because of fears that "Chairman and Co-Founder Tom Dabertin might take up singing and dancing."

“Have you ever seen Tom dance? At 6’9” it’s like watching a bad accident on the expressway” said John Sopo, a past chamber president and retired police officer.

Filled with offbeat events like a pierogi toss contest and a nun dunk tank, Pierogi Fest is one of the largest food festivals in Indiana and across the Midwest.

“Pierogi Fest is known for its fun and safety, and our plans include measures due to COVID-19, like relocating picnic and eating areas to reduce the crowd along the main festival area," Dabertin said. "Our food vendors will be asked to take on additional sanitization to keep everyone safe. As always, we want attendees to have fun and enjoy themselves, and we will offer great food and entertainment.”

It will be the 26th annual Pierogi Fest. The volunteer-led has gotten media attention on the Food Channel, Travel Channel, PBS, CNN and television stations in Germany, Slovakia, Poland, China and Australia. It's earned a number of awards, including a Heritage Award from the Polish National Congress and Blue-Ribbon Festival of Summer in 2013 by Yahoo.

TripAdvisor named it one of the 10 wackiest festivals on the planet, while Oprah Winfrey named it one of her favorite things to do for five straight years. Northwest Indiana residents have named it the Region's best festival 16 times in a row in The Times of Northwest Indiana's Best of the Region.

For more information, visit pierogifest.net or find Pierogi Fest on social media.

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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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