- http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/News/Local/2009/09/13/10872981.html First annual Polish Fest a hit with Londoners Sun, September 13, 2009 ByMessage 1 of 1 , Sep 14, 2009View Source
First annual Polish Fest a hit with Londoners
Sun, September 13, 2009
Peter Gajdek, 19, loves everything about his Polish heritage.
The trumpeter at this weekend’s Festival of Poland at the Covent Garden Market is part of the next generation of Polish descendants to London .
The teenager, dressed for the festival in a traditional blue folk outfit and holding his trumpet, which he played every hour on the hour for the crowd at the festival, was born in Canada but speak Polish at home and wants to keep his own heritage alive.
“There are a lot of cultures in London and in Canada and it’s good for us to bring our culture for everyone to see,” Gajdek says.
Although London’s many cultures put on day or weekend-long festivals throughout the summer — among them celebrations of Greek, Italian and Indian culture — this is the first such festival for Poland.
An estimated 20,000 Polish people call London home. Many came to Canada after the Second World War and more still during the Cold War in the 1980s.
A bunch of us were sitting around reminiscing one day and we were talking about all the other cultural festivals and we thought, why isn’t there a Polish festival,” said Malgorzata Kaczor, the vice-chair of the festival’s organizing committee.
“It’s big endeavor to put something on like this, but we really wanted to do it.”
The market — the main event was held outside, but there were some displays on the second floor — was alive on Saturday with Polish flags, dancing, music and Polish food — pierogies, sausage and cabbage rolls.
On display were businesses and community groups run by the Polish community as well as dancing, folk and pop music and historical artifacts.
“ Poland has many regions and we have a very rich culture and heritage and they are all here on display along with tapestries, arms and armor and displays about Polish military history,” Kaczor said.
“We’re always proud of where we’re from. We like to party and we like to dance and listen to good music.”
The festival wasn’t just for those of Polish descent — people from all over London took in the festivities.
For Gajdek, who started his first year at the University of Western Ontario this September, the pride in his heritage is an important part of his every-day experience.
“When I was young, my parents wanted me to fold dance and I didn’t really want to do it,” he said.
“But then it grew on me, and now we practice every week. It’s always good to know where you come from and to know your culture. I love the dancing now. It’s part of what I do.”
Organizers hope to make the festival an annual event.
Kate Dubinski is a Free Press reporter