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Stamford's Polish Families, Friends Celebrate At Harvest Festival

The Rev. Damian Pielesz, in back, pictured with volunteers at the annual Polish Harvest Festival at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stamford. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Family members at the Polish Harvest Festival, in front from left, are Grace Riznyk, 3, her mother Katie, Bruce Riznyk Sr., Bruce Riznyk, Saffron Przyborowski and Amy Coll. In back from left are Jared Przyborowski and Eric Riznyk. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Jerzy Samelko, center, holds a sausage at the annual Dozynki Polish Harvest on Sunday at Holy Name of Jesus Church. At right is Sylvia Samelko. At left is Asia Sodko. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
The statue of Pope John Paul II in front of Holy Name of Jesus Church on Washington Boulevard. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Yes, pierogies were on sale at the Polish Harvest Festival at Holy Name of Jesus Church on Sunday. Volunteer Al Koproski holds the plate. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Polish dancers entertain the audience at the annual Polish Harvest Festival on Sunday at Holy Name of Jesus Church. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Polish dancers entertain the audience at the annual Polish Harvest Festival on Sunday at Holy Name of Jesus Church. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Polish flags were flying proudly at the annual Polish Harvest Festival at Holy Name of Jesus Church on Sunday. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. -- The ties to Poland are still strong for many Stamford residents, and it was shown in a vignette at the 38th annual Dozynki Polish Harvest Festival on Sunday by Bruce Riznyk and his two sons, Bruce Jr. and Eric.

The three were discussing who was still living in Poland where Bruce Sr.'s wife, Jane, came from. It was as if the three men — all American born and raised — had once lived in Poland.

They have made numerous trips to Poland for weddings of extended family members. Seeing the small home where his mother was raised along with six siblings was an emotional experience for Bruce Jr.

"Just to see the home, to see the roots, it was pretty humbling," said Bruce, a Norwalk resident.

Although Bruce Sr. is of Ukrainian descent, his family comes from an area where the border between Ukraine and Poland has long been fluid due to larger countries occupying and carving up the land.

For Eric, who lives in New Fairfield, traditional Polish music has a strong attachment for him.

"It brings back memories of the older generation, the generation who aren't here anymore," he said as his father, Bruce, nodded beside him and mentioned a former neighbor in the Glenbrook section of Stamford.

The festival served up Polish food, music and crafts, and took place at the Holy Name of Jesus Church, 325 Washington Blvd.

The Rev. Damian Pielesz, parochial vicar of Holy Name of Jesus Church, said it is traditional to gather in late August or early September to give thanks for a successful harvest.

"In Poland, especially at the end of August, all people give thanks to God for bread because we eat bread every day," he said. "It is a special occasion to give thanks to God that we can eat all kinds of food."

Pielesz is originally from Jastrzebie Zdroj and was ordained two years ago as a priest.

"The main thing is that we are grateful to God for all he has done for us all year long," he said.

The festival draws people in from all over Fairfield County and even farther afield, and he said food is always an attraction.

"Polish pierogies, I know everyone wants to eat Polish pierogies, Polish kielbasa and Polish music and also the music, the Polish music -- they like 'Disco Polo' " he said with a laugh.

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