Pierogi Fest returned to the City of Whiting, and while the rain tried to put a damper on the annual celebration of the wild, weird, and whole-heartedly Whiting festival, the spirit of the people in attendance did not let that happen.
We spent the day in the Little City by the Lake to fully immerse ourselves in Pierogi Fest, and what we found was a beautiful celebration of a community that prides itself it on being close-knit and unique. The fest itself is a perfect representation of that; a team effort only accomplished through help from the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, the City of Whiting staff, and of course the community and the volunteers who put in the countless hours of work to make this happen.
Check out our live blog and a recap of the day's events:
12:00: Greetings! Steve here coming to you live from the 2016 Pierogi Fest in the City of Whiting, and I really could not think of a better way to start than to hitch a ride to the fest on a Whiting High School bus. It really shows the heart of the festival, and that as big as the festival is, it takes an entire community coming together to make it happen.
12:30: I caught up with Amy Baran from the City of Whiting to give us a taste of what to expect tonight and what Pierogi Fest means to the city.
“I almost think the most exciting thing about the festival is when the time comes around that Pierogi Fest is about to start,” Baran told IIMM. “The tradition has arrived again in Whiting.”
And while tradition is everything at Pierogi Fest, Baran hinted that tonight’s parade may have a little bit extra added to it.
“The Mascot Hall of Fame is coming in 2017,” added Baran. “This year we’re having mascots from all over join Mayor Joe [Stahura] on the float to let people know ‘the fur is coming’.”
1:30: Rain came so I took a little time to grab the star of the show, some pierogis, and take them to task. Seriously, I don’t know where these things have been all my life but I am so glad they are here now. There is a lot happening right now during the festival but if you came here just for the food, you won’t be disappointed.
1:45: Stopped by the hug-a-cop booth and found a whole bunch of Whiting’s finest waiting for you to come and show them some love. Stop by, it’s just down the road from City Hall.
2:30: Stopped by for a little “Karaoke with Mayor Joe,” who was joined by current and former mayors from all over Indiana, and gave a rousing performance of “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. City of Whiting Mayor, Joe Stahura, told me the idea for a little Karaoke with him and his friends was just all about keeping in line with the theme of good, wacky times in the Little City by the Lake.
“Pierogi Fest is always just a wild time,” Mayor Stahura told IIMM. “This is just all in good fun, and I mean we got legends here today singing along with me.”
3:00: Stopped by the Whiting Chamber of Commerce, the people that put this whole thing together and talked to the Executive Director, Karen Anaszewicz who gave us a little taste of how it’s going so far and what she’s most excited for this weekend.
“So far it’s been craziness, fun, lots of food and festivities so far,” saif Anaszewicz. “I’m really looking forward to the Village People tomorrow, though. That’s the big thing and it will be great to see that all come together tomorrow night.”
3:30: The man, the legend, and this year’s Grand Marshall CBS2’s Steve Baskerville has arrived in the City of Whiting and just as he does, the sun comes out. Almost seems to good to be true, or one of those moments from a feel-good movie.
Baskerville told us it is always an honor to be a part of such a time-honored tradition like Pierogi Fest.
“It feels wonderful to be back in Whiting,” Baskerville told me. “The welcome to the city was fantastic.”
“But you know what makes it extra good, the sun came out.”
4:30: We are in a rain break right now, and it is coming down. What’s interesting to see is there are still some die-hard fans walking the streets. Just goes to show you just how much this event means to the community, and how important this festival is to not only Whiting but all of Northwest Indiana. Talking to everyone today, the main theme has been keep it weird and keep it fun, but there has always been an immense feeling of pride in everyone’s words. Every time anyone I talk to talks about Pierogi Fest, you see the change in their face, inflection, and emotion.
Take Markus Fielder, Quarterback for Whiting Clark, who came out to bond with his friends, his teammates, and his community.
“I am excited to be here because it’s a chance to bond with my teammates and friends,” said Fielder. “I enjoy being in Whiting and being out at such a cool event with them.”
4:45: Well, I’m about to get ready for the big parade at 7, follow along @nwindianalife on Twitter and Facebook.com/nwindianalife for pics, videos and constant coverage of the action. Hope you enjoyed the blog and check back here later for all the great photos!
There's still two days left so be sure to check out all the action, and don't forget your preview guide here!