By Jon Masyga
On Sunday, October 4, 2015, the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum hosted another successful and highly attended Smaczne Jablka or “Tasty Apple Festival” at and around the Museum at 102 Liberty Street, in Winona, Minnesota to celebrate Winona’s Kashubian Polish heritage. Smaczne Jablka takes place the first Sunday of each October.
The Festival included local artisans in the museum, Kashubian food, a silent auction, entertainment (including Polish attired dancers), live music, and the “Polish Business Power Street”, featuring local businesses that have Polish ties and/or beginnings. There were more than 800 attendees, 15 vendors, and 40 volunteers that made this one of the most successful fundraisers in the history of the event – up 400% over last year’s proceeds.
The festival started an hour earlier this year at 11:00 AM. A small crowd gathered as the preparations were completed. Entertainment outside was provided by the popular “Misty Mountain Boys” and the crowd grew steadily throughout the day. Inside Don Wodek played the accordion followed by Patti Darbo with vocals and guitar. There was plenty of food available and it proved to be very popular. The golabki and perogi were all consumed.
The early Poles ate “Survival food” to get by when they had little or no money. There were free samples of smoked catfish and carp, examples of early survival food. “Peasant food” is the food Poles purchased, made, and consumed for very little money. The typical lumber mill employee made a $1.00 per day and had to feed large families and pay for other expenses. The peasant food stretched the money and exhibited the Polish knack for making great tasting food out of just about anything. Free samples were available of kluski, drop noodle soup, and grits baloney. Many attendees tasting the peasant food smiled and commented that the food took them back to happy memories of simpler times with their families.
The pies were popular, completely selling out. Even more popular was the classy man in the bow-tie handing out the ice cream on pies – although there were other servers, people waited in line for him to serve them.
Freshly baked pretzels from the outdoor ovens sold out. Polish beer was available until it, too, sold out. Regent apples, t-shirts and memberships to the Museum were available for sale. The outside events were shepherded by the white longhaired Polish Sheep dog, which continues to be a crowd favorite. Outside on the Power Street were canoes, the Franklin Car, and other local business attractions.