MINTO, N.D. - A group of men stand outside around a large boiling pot of oil, many wearing shirts with the word "Polska" emblazoned across the chest.

"This is the best sausage we've made yet," one of them remarks.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

This is Minto's Polish Food Fest.

The Polish National Alliance held its 14th annual festival in the Minto Community Center on Saturday.

Nearly 600 people turned up to eat and celebrate, some coming from as far as Milwaukee.

Jeff Jankowski, who came all the way from Wisconsin, said this was his second Polish Food Fest.

"We introduced them to Polish chili last year," Jankowski said. "We're serving it this year too."

Also on the menu were traditional Polish dishes like pierogies, kluski and czarnina.

One of the organizers of the event, Sandy Schuster, said that volunteers made more than 1,500 pierogies and 250 pounds of Polish sausage.

"We've been cooking all week, starting Tuesday," said Sandy's husband, Roger. "At one point, we had 20 volunteers in the kitchen. All you have to do is ask and people will jump up to help you."

A group of 50 Polish dancers performed for those gathered, starting with a group of children as young as two years old.

"We have college-aged dancers who come back and dance," Sandy said. "And you never forget these dances."

Lisa Gudajtes used to dance. This year, her granddaughter performed the Polish dances for the first time.

"I love being Polish. I mean, look at it," Gudajtes said, gesturing to the rainbow of dancers moving across the stage, "this is just a beautiful culture."

Gudajtes said that it is very important to her and her family to celebrate their Polish heritage and keep the culture alive.

"Some of these people are Polish and just come to speak Polish with other people," Sandy said. "This is such a social event."

Audrey and Vernon Rogalla traveled from Thief River Falls, Minn., to be in Minto for the afternoon. The couple are originally from the Warsaw, N.D., area but moved to Thief River Falls 63 years ago to farm.

The Rogallas have been coming to the Polish Food Fest for six years.

"My mother made all of these foods," Audrey said.

The Polish Food Fest is a fundraiser for the Polish National Alliance, Roger said. The group uses money raised to help with things like sports programs and scholarships for high school graduates.

"All of what we raise is donated back to the community," Roger said. "We wouldn't be able to do this without them; everyone is so generous."