After a successful launch party with electronic music geared to the younger crowd on Friday, Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church in Houston Texas began their annual Dożynki or Polish Harvest Festival on Saturday, September 17, 2011 with a grand opening showing of the American, Polish and Texas flags and the singing of the national anthems.
The two day Dozynki festival is based on a tradition that dates back for many centuries in Poland and symbolizes the end of the harvest for the farmers. It is a time of happiness, good food, folk dancing and live music. A large crowd each day had no problem finding plenty of happiness and lots of great food, dancing and music. The weather was hot and humid, typical for this time of year in Texas but after record breaking drought, the Good Lord answered the prayers of millions of Texans on Saturday with some nice soothing rain. The rain didn’t bother the festival crowd, in fact it was a welcome sight so everyone huddled under the covered areas while the entertainment continued on.
The entry to the festival was beautifully decorated and lined with booths selling Polish t-shirts, ornaments, pottery, jewelery and lots of other items. Water slides, painting and lots of other activities kept the kids busy while the adults sat under the covered tables and enjoyed the food and entertainment. Many beautiful items were available to the highest bidder at the silent auction. A good selection of delicious traditional Polish food such as pierogi, bigos, kielbasa, golabki and kiszka were served as well as hot dogs and fries. Two of the more interesting foods this year were the Polish Kebab which consisted of sausage and corn on the cob on a stick and a salad on a stick. Cold water, soft drinks, piwo and wino were available to help cool off.
The most popular area at the festival was the large covered stage where the crowd was entertained by a variety of music, singing and folk dancing including the Polish Teen Dance Troupe, children from the Polish School, vocal group Polonia Houston, Halny, Edward Winiarski and Marek Kulisiewicz. D. J. Chris Piorkowski kept the music and entertainment going all day. The highlight of the day was a very beautiful and moving harvest wreath and sharing of bread ceremony presided over by festival hosts Fr. Leszek Wedziuk and Barbara Ostrowski. Our Lady of Czestochowa pastor Father Waldemar Matusiak blessed the bread and it was then shared with the crowd.
Sunday events started with a beautiful 10 am Dożynki Mass that included a procession of the harvest wreath and bread and a sharing of the bread in the church. The Mass was followed by a parade welcoming all guests and lots more singing, dancing and fun continued throughout the day.
Below are a few photos of the fun and there is a slideshow of many more photos from Saturday on page 2 and a slideshow of photos from Sunday on page 3 or watch our Harvest Festival videos.