The 38th annual Polish Festival kicks off an extended weekend of fun on August 2nd in Boyne Falls, a small town in Northern Michigan near Petoskey. The Polish Festival brings together local fair favorites with a Polish twist to honor area heritage, and leaves no citizen or visitor of any age out. From August 2nd until August 5th, carnivals, cars shows, music, mud runs, parades, and of course the polka, bring the big Polish party to Boyne. Four to Five thousand people are expected to attend over the course of the weekend.
“A lot of people plan their summer vacations around it,” says Sandra Erber, co-chair of the festival committee. “It’s nice to see. The people who go away, they always find their way back for the first week of August.”
This year’s newest additions are the 24-foot rock climbing wall, with professionals to give proper climbing instructions; and the chainsaw exposition by James W. Denkins, who has been carving with chainsaws for 20 years.
Also new this year, a ticket to the polka tent gives you a chance to win a cruise trip for two. A percentage of the proceeds from the giveaway goes to the Northern Michigan Cancer Crusaders. The polka tent itself begins Thursday at 6 pm and goes all day and into the night for the rest of the weekend with live bands, beverages, and Polish food.
The Mud Run and Car Show are close behind the polka tent in popularity. An estimated 700 to 800 people will attend the Mud Run, and around 80 of Michigan’s most impressive autos will cruise into the Car Show in hopes to claim bragging rights and one of seven cash prizes.
For younger visitors, there’s a carnival to enjoy with concessions and amusement rides. There’s also Youth Day on Friday, which includes pony rides, games, and crafts. Kids are sure to enjoy decorating their wheels for the bicycle parade and watching the steam engine show on Friday. Other events include a horse-shoe throwing competition, horse pull, tractor pull, parade, family movie, and more throughout the weekend. Check out the site for a full schedule of events.
Polka tent refreshments are provided by local high school students and proceeds go towards their annual senior trip to Hawaii. “80 to 90 percent of the trip is paid for by the festival,” says Erber, who (like many community members) can remember her own trip as well as her son’s. The collective effort epitomizes the community unity involved with the festival. The help of 100 to 150 volunteers, as well as contributions by local businesses, help to make the Polish Festival a success year after year.
The first week of August marks the beginning of famous fun in Boyne Falls, and is sure to be yet another success in a lustrous, almost 4-decade-long legacy. Check out the festival’s site for details, or take a look at their facebook page. Come join Michigan Poles for the party, parade, provisions, and most importantly, polka!
~Samantha Stemler, feature writer