After a rain filled festival opening on Friday evening, Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church in Houston Texas began their annual Dożynki or Polish Harvest Festival on Saturday, September 12, 2012 with gradually improving weather. By Sunday, the temperature was moderate and the sky’s were clear and bright blue. The festival opened on Saturday with a showing of the American, Polish and Texas flags by a large group of folk costumed festival participants and the singing of the national anthems of Poland and the United States.
The three 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.
Visitors entering the festival were greeted by a beautifully decorated entry lined with booths selling Polish t-shirts, ornaments, pottery, jewelery and lots of other items. Bounce houses, face painting and 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 in the air-conditioned hall. A great variety of delicious traditional Polish food including pierogi, bigos served in a bread bowl, kielbasa, gołąbki, golonka and kiszka were served as well as Texas barbeque brisket and ribs, hot dogs, fries and turkey legs. Cold water, soft drinks, piwo and wino were also available.
The main area of the festival was the large covered stage where the crowd was entertained by a variety of music, singing and folk dancing including the Wawel Folk Dance Ensemble, children from the Polish School, vocal group Polonia Houston, Edward Winiarski and others. D. J. Chris Piorkowski kept the music and entertainment going all day and most of the night. In the early afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday, Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz and his Texas Polska Kapela band entertained the crowd with plenty of old time Polish tunes. The band consisted of talented musicians Jim Mazurkiewicz, Frank Motley, C. J. Jozwiak, Charlie Brossman, James Mazurkiewicz, Jakub Marshall, Leonard Kasowski, Johnny Kubeczka and Jozef Klotz.
The highlight of the day on Saturday was a very beautiful and moving harvest wreath and sharing of bread ceremony presided over by festival hosts Maria Czuprynowski and Tony Wolski with Adam Golunski and Kasia Przybylski as master of ceremonies. Our Lady of Czestochowa pastor Father Waldemar Matusiak blessed the bread and it was then shared with the crowd.
One of the most moving moments of the festival was when Wawel dance group member Aneta Krozel was brought to tears by her daughter Jessica singing “Do ciebie, Mamo” to her Mother.
Sunday events started with a 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 to another day of singing, dancing and fun.
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 many more photos from Sunday on page 3 or watch our Harvest Festival videos.