CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Kielbasa Festival hasn’t been around Western Mass. since 1997, but this May it’s coming back to Chicopee for kielbasa lovers to get together and feast while having fun! Manager Thomas Kielbania and Greg Bernat, Owner of Bernat’s Polish Deli in Chicopee, shared more about the return of this iconic festival!
Kielbasa Fest 2014
May 15th – 18th
750 Front Street
12 & under FREE
Active Military FREE with ID
Kielbasa Eating Contest
Golden Kielbasa Awards
Traditional Polish Dance Presentations
Local Band Showcase and Event Tent
20 Kielbasa Vendors in competition for “King Kielbasa”
Polish Food & more
Full carnival with 18 rides and wrist bands available
Family games, food for all people
Beer & wine café
100 different vendors from kettle corn to shaved ice to animal specialty booths
To learn more visit TheKielbasaFestival.com.
About the Kielbasa Festival:
Ask anyone who lived in Chicopee, MA from the 1970s to the 1990s about the World Kielbasa Festival, chances are their story will start with a smile. At its peak in the 80s, 65,000 people would flock to the rear parking lot of the Fairfield Mall (currently the Chicopee Marketplace) to take part in a four day celebration of Kielbasa, Polka music, and all things Chicopee. Admission at the gate would give you access to the carnival rides, games, casino tent, kielbasa recipe contest, kielbasa eating contest and Miss Chicopee crowning. You got to see the King Kielbasa, a giant kielbasa provided each year by Chicopee Provision Co. that reached at a size of 623 pounds, 27 feet long in 1994, or you could just sample the kielbasa, kapusta, pierogi and other Polish fare available from the many vendors along the midway. Polka music blasted almost constantly from the Alice Nahormek polka tent and fueled the polka dancers, some of whom would come to spent all four days twirling to the music of Lenny Gamulka and the Chicago Push, Jimmy Sturr’s Orchestra, and many of the best Polka bands of the day. If polka wasn’t your thing, you could head over to the oldies tent, where you might see The Crescents, The Drifters, or A Ray of Elvis perform. There was something for just about everyone.
The Kielbasa Festival grew each year since its origin in 1974 when it was first held on the bank of the river behind Main Street. It was conceived and organized by the Fireball club, a fund-raising committee for the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, as a way to promote the many civic organizations and local businesses that call Chicopee home. Parking soon became an issue in Chicopee Falls, and after two years the festival moved to where most people remember it, on Memorial Drive. It was run by a crew of volunteers who would man the ticket booths, beer stands and clean-up crews. For 22 consecutive years, with a brief comeback in 1997, The K-Fest was a source of pride for Chicopee residents, and a genuine Chicopee tradition.