by Bob Selwa–Special Contributor
It’s time to polka!
It’s time to celebrate the heritage of farming!
It’s time to enjoy the biggest and best parade of the year in all of northeast Michigan.
It’s time to appreciate the prettiest girls in all of northern Michigan, on beautiful floats, enthusiastically highlighting their charming communities.
It’s time to savor the most delicious farm-fresh Polish food in America.
Yes, it’s time for the Posen Potato Festival.
The sweet little village in the fertile farmlands of Presque Isle County welcomes the annual turnout of about 25,000 folks from across the United States each year on the weekend after Labor Day.
The 62nd annual Posen Potato Festival begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, and continues through 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, with three days filled with good wholesome fun.
It’s a joy to write about America’s best Polish farming festival. Posen, begun in 1870 by lumbermen who stayed to farm the land they cleared, is the heritage of countless folks all over this great country. A favorite and delightful question they often pose to each other is, “Who are you from home?”
You don’t have to be “from home” and you don’t have to be Polish American to be part of the fun. All good-hearted folks are invited to all the good times in Posen this fabulous weekend.
Here, from my experience in coming to the Posen Potato Festival since 1964 with family and friends are some of the many highlights.
• The grand festival parade, at 1:30 p.m., is best of all the great activities. The parade proceeds north on M-65 through the entire village of Posen, from the baseball field to the public schools’ grounds, with nearly a hundred units, including beautiful floats, delightful groups and happy music.
• The kiddie parade at noon on M-65 in Posen, from the Community Center south to the reviewing stand, is a pure delight. This is because of the creative and fun ideas of many-generation families with their little children highlighting Posen themes.
• The food is fabulous. Numerous community organizations go all out to provide meals that are delicious and healthy featuring potatoes and all the other farm-fresh foods of Presque Isle County.
• The Polish folk music Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday at St. Casimir Catholic Church on M-65 just north of the village of Posen is an inspiration of faith and of ethnic heritage. “Pan” Franek and Zosia and their family polka band provide religious music with a simply wonderful sing-along participation of people filling the church.
• The polka pavilion is almost continually a place of great polka music in the heart of the community, with some of the best bands from around the United States providing the music for listening and dancing.
• The arts and crafts Show at Posen High School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday is fascinating, with outstanding crafts made by many new friends awaiting all of us.
Complete schedules with maps of the Posen Potato Festival are available in Posen, Rogers City, and around Presque Isle County.
The opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Friday is at the three flags plaza — with the flags of the United States, Michigan and Poland — just southeast of the Polka Pavilion.
There are polka dances with $8 admission on Friday and Saturday nights at the Polka pavilion. Admission is free noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and only $1 from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The side streets and sidewalks of Posen are filled with vendors. One of my favorites is the “Posen” board with the year of the festival and with a tractor or potato, prepared by a group of modern-day lumbermen.
Award-winning potato displays are at the Community Center side entrance, and copies are available there of the Posen 1870-1970 history book, available for only $5 and well worth it.
The Posen Knights of Columbus will provide a potato pancake breakfast at the Green Pavilion from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The Posen Knights of Columbus also will serve at the 10 a.m. Sunday Polish Polka Music Mass as lectors, eucharistic ministers, ushers and altar servers.
The Posen Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will provide dinner at the Posen VFW Hall from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Stuffed cabbage, ham, Polish sausage, potatoes and glazed carrots are all part of the meal.
The Posen Fire And Rescue volunteers festival dinner will be noon to 6 p.m. Saturday in the St. Casimir School gym. This dinner includes baked chicken, potatoes, vegetables and other good food.
The Posen VFW breakfast will be from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday with eggs, ham, kielbasa, potatoes and buttermilk pancakes among the many good food items.
The St. Casimir Rosary Society potato pancake dinner will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Posen Community Center. This is a feast. It includes potato pancakes, ham, kielbasa, potatoes, vegetables and all the trimmings. The potato pancakes are so good that I make them dessert.
Each year the Posen community honors outstanding citizens, and this year our grand marshals are Louie and Marian Urban.
Miss Posen this year is Kendall Hirschman, senior at Posen High School and daughter of Jim and Ann Hirschman. One of the many great things that Posen does is honor the parents with their own unit in the parade, in addition to highlighting Miss Posen and her court on a beautiful float.
Congratulations to Kendall, 17, active in the National Honor Society, student council, pep club, trip club, Students Against Destructive Decisions, volleyball and cheerleading. She won awards in the Miss Posen pageant for poise and appearance, coordination, talent, and congeniality. Kendall plans to go to Central Michigan University to study communications and to become a social worker.
Welcome, folks from across our great country, to Posen, home of the fabulous Posen Potato Festival!