A Dozynki Doubleback
Downtown Polish heritage event returns with more
By Kris Leonhardt
STEVENS POINT – “It goes way back, I mean, (Dozynki) festivals of some kind have probably been taking place for forever. Now Dozynski Downtown as we know it came back in 2019. And then, sadly, we had two years off,” explained Dozynki Downtown coordinator, Kris Carne, of the Stevens Point festival.
“But prior to that, I think they just called the Dozynski harvest festival years ago. And the streets would be closed and vendors would be out and there would be Polka dancing and food and different kinds of vendors. But the focus of the Dozynki Downtown is really focusing on the Polish heritage and the downtown area.
“For instance this year, the Portage County Historical Society is involved and they’ll have a presentation at (Temple) Beth Israel. So, it’s all about Polishness, Polish heritage, enjoying the food of downtown, and then just some festivities outside as well.”
The event’s origin goes back to a much simpler time in the “Old Country,” when the fall equinox was cause for celebration.
“So Dozynki is a fall harvest festival. It originally was celebrated around the equinox and it was like a Slavic pagan festival and it’s to celebrate the end of the harvest, you know the reap of a good harvest and it’s kind of become a little more Christian, a little bit more festive,” Carne said.
“And typically, it’s celebrated with the Lord of the Manor or the gentry or whatever – the leader of the barn or the village – like celebrating the peasants or celebrating his workers and the good harvest. And, they come in with like a wreath made of the last wheat or the grain of the season, and they present it to the Lord of the Manner. And, then they sang and danced and had food. So, current festivals are all about singing, dancing, music, food.”
This year’s downtown event, held Sept. 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., is coming back with a mix of old and new elements, including Polish Sand Drawing.
“It’s really ancient and not that many people do it anymore,” Carne explained.
“I didn’t know about it until a few years ago. Back in the day when cabins didn’t have floors; to make their floors nice, they would do these sand drawings, so like ornate flowers or you know how you see the Polish paper cutting. You’ll see that.”
Another new element features Polish and American food and drink specialties at downtown establishments, including: pierogi, Polish Old Fashioned, Czernina, Jezynowka, and more.
Downtown activities will also feature a variety of family-focused events and opportunities.