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May 27, 2024

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Polish Heritage Festival In NJ
Set For Sunday, June 8th

NEW JERSEY – Sunday, June 8th is an important date for the Polish American Community. This is when the Polish American Heritage League and the Garden State Cultural Center Fund will present the 42nd Polish Heritage Festival.

As in the past, this year’s annual Polish Heritage Festival will take place, rain or shine, at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. Admission is free! It’s easy to get to the festival, just drive on the Garden State Parkway to Exit 116 and then follow road signs for a short distance to the large amphitheater that marks the PNC Bank Arts Center.

Heritage festivals at the Arts Center started in 1971 with an Irish and an Italian event. Soon thereafter, the Garden State’s Polish, Scandinavian, Scottish, Slovak, Afro-American, German, Jewish, Ukrainian, and Chinese communities organized festivals at the Arts Center.

This year’s Polish Heritage Festival will begin on Sunday morning, June 8th at 10:30 with the celebration of a Polish/English Mass.

Mrs. Iwona Karpeta, an outstanding Polish American, is General Chair of this year’s Polish Heritage Festival. Forthcoming articles will profile Mrs. Karpeta and the musicians, dancers, and other performers who will enliven this year’s festival.

The Polish Heritage Festival is by now a beautiful tradition that presents key aspects of Polish and Polish American culture to energize us and to help others to come to know us. In addition to the performers and delicious Polish food and beverages, the festival features a presentation of scholarships to students, sport activities, and other children’s activities.

Only we can preserve and strengthen the beautiful tradition of the annual Polish Heritage Festival by participating in this day of fun, fellowship, and Polish Pride. This is why a numerous turn-out is important.

The Polish Heritage League (PAHL) is the non-profit corporation which produces and organizes the annual Polish Heritage Festivals. PAHL assures continuity from one annual festival to the next. Those who serve on PAHL’s several committees are volunteers who are committed to producing each year an informative and entertaining program.

Over the years PAHL has demonstrated its philanthropic spirit by making financial contributions to worthwhile causes like: Polish American Congress Charitable Foundation, Pope John Paul II Monte Cassino Project, John Paul II Cultural Center Campaign, Orchard Lake Seminary, Garden State Arts Center Cultural Fund, and the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, NJ.

Mrs. Dorothy (Dottie) Maziarz Sowchuk is PAHL’s long serving Chair. Born in Trenton, NJ, she has been a lifelong activist in many Polish American organizations. She told this writer that she first became involved in the Polish Heritage Festival because her brother, the late Stanley H. Maziarz, who served as the first Polish American City Clerk of Trenton, NJ, played a key role in organizing the first festival 42 years ago. She also serves as vice-president of the New Jersey Division of the Polish American Congress.

Mrs. Sowchuk observes that the Scottish and Italian festivals which were held in previous years will not go forward this year. There is nothing automatic about tradition. For our beautiful tradition of the Polish Heritage Festival to continue, we must encourage our friends and acquaintances to be numerous this year.

Every event takes place in a political context, and this year’s Polish Heritage Festival will take place at a time of resurgent Russian imperialism in Ukraine. In 2014, which Poland’s Parliament proclaimed, with but one abstention, the Year of Jan Karski, Vladimir Putin is behaving just as did Adolf Hitler in 1938. The Kremlin’s challenge to international law-and-order in this Year of Jan Karski tests the resolve of the civilized world to put power behind the often repeated anti-Hitler slogan: “Never Again!”

We Polish Americans bear a measure of moral and political responsibility for assuring that state-to-state and people-to-people relations between the United States and Poland are informed by a spirit of fair play and reciprocity. In numbers there is strength. This will help us to affect American public opinion on behalf of Poland and the Poles in this time of Russian imperialism which tests the resolve of the NATO countries. This is why we need to show Polish American Pride by having a very strong turn-out at this year’s Polish Heritage Festival.

By John Czop
April 11, 201