Holy Rollers return with Pierogi Fest
July 25, 2012 3:34PM
Sharon Roy of the Babushka Parade pulled Mike Kiefor of Schererville out of the audience for a polka during the Pierogi Parade at the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Ind., in this July 2011 photo. The 2012 parade starts at 7 p.m. July 27. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 11:06AM
One of the most fun area events of the year, Pierogi Fest, had a new addition last year that made quite a splash: the Holy Rollers, a group of nuns from East Chicago.
These Carmelite sisters not only roller-skated in the parade in their black and white habits, but also participated in Dunk a Nun, a dunk tank raising money for their charitable work.
The Holy Rollers will again join in the wacky Pierogi Parade, appearing with units like the Dancin’ Buscias (gals dressed like Eastern European grandmas and doing choreographed dance routines using walkers), the Babushka Brigade (guys dressed like buscias and doing things like twirling toilet plungers as batons), the Pierogi Pups (dogs wearing babushkas), a Polish “Highbread” (a red car with loaves of bread on top) and the Precision Lawn Mower Drill Team.
Mr. Pierogi, Ms. Paczki, Halupki Guy and Polkahontas, some of the event’s uniquely costumed mascots, are also in the parade, which steps off at 7 p.m. Friday, July 27, and goes along 119th Street in downtown Whiting.
The Pierogi Fest fun starts at 11 a.m. Friday, and continues until 5 p.m. Sunday. Packed in between those times are five stages of free entertainment including humorous performances, shows for children, and music, with one stage dedicated solely to polka music and another for local cover bands.
The fest also features contests; a new “tchotchke mall” (on Central Avenue) with all ethnic handcrafts, crafts and vendors concentrated in one area and with new extended evening hours; an expanded food seating area (on Oliver Street); and 72 food booths, the most ever, with 20 dedicated to the festival’s namesake pierogi, a dumpling typically stuffed with potato, cheese, ground meat or fruit.
Many other Eastern European dishes are also sold, like the halubki, a cabbage roll stuffed with ground beef and rice, a dish many of us know as “pigs in a blanket.”
“This is ‘The Year of the Halupki’ so the Buscia’s Cooking Show (11 a.m. Saturday) will probably focus on that,” said Sara Hildebranski, executive director of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, one of the organizations which presents Pierogi Fest. “The Buscias are always a riot. Their show changes every year, so you never know what to expect, except that it will be very funny.”
Another fun show is the Mr. Pierogi’s Songfest (1 p.m. Saturday), with the event’s star mascot leading a sing-a-long to familiar tunes with the lyrics cleverly changed to Eastern European or Northwest Indiana themes.
If you know a lot about Northwest Indiana, particularly the Whiting area, then join in the Whiting-Robertsdale history game at 11 a.m. Sunday. Or maybe you’d prefer the pierogi toss at 3 p.m. Sunday, or the pierogi eating contest, immediately following the toss. Work off those pierogis at the Polkahontas polka contest at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Pierogi Fest is a free event that takes place along 119th Street, just east of Indianapolis Boulevard. Free parking is available throughout town, and in the Calumet College lot at 2400 New York Ave., and at the Clark High School field at 122nd Street and Calumet Avenue. Shuttle bus rides from both lots cost $1.