the festival is cancelled

The Baltimore Polish Festival is cancelled this year.  A sad tradition falling by the wayside due to rising fees by the city government.

I grew up in Baltimore.  My heritage is Polish and I have been to many of the annual Polish festivals there.

My parents would take us to the festivals when I was growing up.  At the time, it was held at Rash Field, by the harbor.  This was long before the grand tourist trap now called the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

It was eventually moved to Patterson Park, where there is more space.  The vendors and stages were set up surrounding the statue of General Casimir Pulaski, the Polish hero of the American Revolution.

There would be polka bands, traditional Polish dancers in traditional costumes, Polish crafts, traditional Polish foods, and Polish beer.  Lots of beer.

As the Baltimore Sun newspaper put it:

Each June, the festival has attracted throngs from all over the city over a three-day weekend to celebrate Baltimore’s Polish community — largely congregated in Southeast Baltimore’s Upper Fells Point neighborhood, where immigrants established a number of churches, small businesses and social clubs.

When I was growing up, there was a big Polish community in Baltimore.  There were many Polish social clubs and churches that did mass in Polish.

Only one Church, Holy Rosary, still does mass in Polish.  There are only two of the Polish social clubs left.  One, the Polish Home Club, is in Fells Point.  The other is the Polish National Alliance.

I remember seeing the Alliance building when we went to visit my Nan every weekend.  I always wondered what it was.  I always wanted to go there.  But, like many of my generation, my heritage meant less and less as I approached my late teens/early twenties.  I was totally Americanized.  I’ve still never been there.

There is still a small Polish community in Baltimore.  These are the people who keep the Polish traditions alive.  These are the people who will move the Polish festival out of the city, into a surrounding county, next year.  It was too late to do it this year after they found out the city was raising their fees.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the same.  Part of the fun of the festival was that it was in the city.  Moving it to the fairgrounds will make it seem like just another fair, far away from the Polish community.

This would have been the 38th annual Polish Festival in Baltimore.

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7 Responses to the festival is cancelled

  1. Hi Shell,
    That is so sad! ~I think as we grow older we value traditions more. Such a shame the city were raised their fees…now they have nothing!
    I am always intrigued by Portuguese traditions.
    PiP 🙂

    • Seashell says:

      You are so right PiP. The older I get, the more I want to learn about my heritage and traditions. Unfortunately, a lot of this was not passed down to my parents. Their parents wanted them to be Americanized! With the grandparents now gone, it’s something I have to learn from research instead of stories and oral history.

  2. Pingback: the festival is cancelled | seashell by the seashore | InnerHarbor.com

  3. barb19 says:

    Such a shame the Polish Festival will not be held in the city anymore because of the increased fees. It’s true, as we get older, we want to know about our heritage and where we originated from, and sad that it will no longer be passed down orally in your own particular family. Research and books are the only way to find out.
    I have started writing down my memories of being raised in Scotland so I have something to leave for my children about their heritage (when and if) they discover they are interested in their beginnings!

  4. Theresa says:

    This post brought back a lot of memories. My heritage is Polish as well, and there were many people of Eastern European descent in the area of Michigan where I grew up. Catholic churches had festivals every summer; I haven’t seen that since moving to Maryland. My parents went to the same church for many, many years but later in life found another parish that offered Polish mass…in his late 60s my dad actually became an altar boy!

    Very sad about the Festival and I’m sorry to say that it’s something I missed living in this area.

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