Polish Fest cancels 2021 summer event

NOW: Polish Fest cancels 2021 summer event

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Polish Fest is joining the list of canceled summer events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Polish Heritage Alliance, Inc. made the announcement Tuesday, March 16. 

The Board of Directors made the decision based on the health and safety of everyone involved with Polish Fest.

“It’s the largest living example of our culture display that we can produce and it’s a tough decision,” says Jeff Kuderski, executive director of the Polish Heritage Alliance.

For the past 38 years, Polish Fest has been filing the Summerfest grounds for 3-days in June. For the second year in a row, that event won’t be taking place because of the pandemic.

“The way it looked it was just way too soon,” says Kuderski. “Too early to do a festival. It just felt it was best to postpone it this year.”

Officials say everything was on track, but the timing just wasn’t right. Not to mention, they were having issues with performers who wouldn’t be able to make their way into that state from our of the country.

“The biggest concern for us was the safety of our volunteers, performers, our entertainers and to make sure our sponsors felt safe to donate to us to produce this,” says Kuderski. “Could we produce it? Yes, we could. Is it really in the best interest of the everybody? I think we just pause.”

So far, this is one of four ethnic festivals that typically take place along the Lakefront and are now on the cancellation list.

While there’s an average number of 62 cases per day, officials say it’s the mass gathering portion that are the concern.

“I think the cancelation of festivals is really about the large number of people congregating in one place which is still not safe, and there’s still some restrictions related to these large gatherings,” says Kristen Johnson, Commissioner of Health for the City of Milwaukee.

“We’ll have Polish fest in 2022. If not, please come out and support us here at the Franklin community center,” says Kuderski.

The organization says they plan on hosting smaller events at the Polish Center of Wisconsin in Franklin.

Polish Fest would have been holding its three-day event June 11-13 at the Henry W. Maier festival grounds in Milwaukee.

"Planning was on track for this year; however, at present, COVID-19 is currently a part of everyone’s lives, we believe the best decision is to not hold Polish Fest this year so early in the summer to allow for more vaccinations to the broader community. Our Festival Committee and our Board of Directors reviewed many options.” said Steve Chybowski, President of Polish Heritage Alliance. “We believe this is the best decision for our attendees, volunteers, entertainers, and vendors – our entire extended “Polish Fest Community.”

However, officials say they hope to host additional events at the Polish Center of Wisconsin to promote Polish heritage and culture later this year. For further information on those events, click here.

"Polish Fest would like to thank everyone who has supported our festival over the years," a news release stated. "While we cancel with heavy hearts we know this is the best decision for everyone to stay safe." 

All tickets for Polish Fest 2020 and 2020 will be honored in 2022.

Polish Fest has been a part of Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin for 38 years.

Festa Italiana, German Fest, and PrideFest have also canceled their events slated for this summer in Milwaukee.

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