Port Coquitlam will soon feast on Polish sausages, drink Polish beer, create folk art, watch traditional dances, listen to music and embrace a new culture at the BC Polish Festival.
The 16th annual event is slated for May 28 at 1 p.m. in the plaza behind the Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC), located at2150 Wilson Ave.
"We want to promote Polish culture and to showcase the talents of the people who live here," said Emma McLaren, president of the Polonez Tri-City Polish Association, which organizes the annual event.
McLaren, a Port Coquitlam middle school teacher, has been involved in the festival for many years, first as a pageant participant and later as an emcee.
Now, she joins others with Polish heritage in mounting the festival.
Notably among the helpers is Antoni Kostka, who has also helped to organize the free event, and was recently recognized by officials as Port Coquitlam's 2023 volunteer of the year.
McLaren told the Tri-City News that she appreciates the guidance of the members of the Polonez Tri-City Polish Association in bringing the event together.
McLaren comes by her Polish heritage through her mother, who was born in Krakow, but, despite her mom's efforts, she didn't appreciate her heritage until she got more involved.
McLaren remembers seeing how touched her mom was to witness the cultural extravaganza that is the annual Polish festival.
"I could tell how much she missed it [her former home]."
According to McLaren, Port Coquitlam has a sizeable Polish immigrant population, whose members gather at two local businesses, Canpole Polish Food on Flint Street and Maria's Homestyle Perogis on Shaughnessy Street.
"Those two stores in Port Coquitlam has made PoCo a good place for people to connect."
McLaren thinks it's important for youth to know where they come from while non-Polish visitors to the B.C. Polish Festival will enjoy the cultural experience of Poland without having to pay for an expensive flight.
Food, beer galore
This year, the festival is set to highlight a popular tourist destination, Zakopane — a beautiful and well-known travel location.
Here are just some of the festivities that visitors can expect when they visit the free event.
There will be a variety of Polish food such as pierogies, Polish sausages, hunter’s stew, potato pancakes, ham hocks and famous Polish cakes and pastries.
Parents will be able to enjoy some Polish beer while children can participate in folk art workshops.
The artistic program will run continuously from 1 to 7:30 p.m. and will include Polish folk dance ensembles in beautiful costumes, as well as the White Eagle Band from Victoria, and many talented soloists.
At 7:30 p.m., there will be an outdoor dance party that will continue until 9 p.m.
There will also be a market place, with vendors selling arts, crafts, jewellery and more.
Look for red and white flags, upbeat Polish folk and pop music and the smell of pierogies and sausage wafting through downtown Port Coquitlam.
Free underground parking is also available in the PCCC parking lot.