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National

Pierogi Fest Brings Poland To Indiana Annually

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Pierogi and polka on a hot summer day - it is the next stop on our tour of summer festivals.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLKA MUSIC)

MICHAEL PUENTE, BYLINE: I'm Michael Puente in Whiting, Ind., right outside Chicago at Pierogi Fest. But what is a pierogi? Let's go find out.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLKA MUSIC)

PUENTE: What's your name?

JIM OAKS: Jim Oaks (ph).

PUENTE: How would you describe a pierogi?

OAKS: It's a Polish dumpling, and they're filled with either different meats, cheeses. A lot of them have fruits. You have your desert ones, which are blueberry, strawberry.

PUENTE: Which is the most popular one?

OAKS: Potato cheddar - there's nothing better.

PUENTE: How did Pierogi Fest become this huge event?

OAKS: It started off as just four small vendors, and it caught on because of Whiting being such a melting pot. And it just blew up.

TERESA SENTKOWSKI: My maiden name is Teresa Sentkofski (ph). In English it's Teresa Sentkowski (ph).

PUENTE: So what makes this Pierogi Fest so special?

SENTKOWSKI: I think a lot of it is the love of the people from the area. Most of us that grew up here are Eastern European. We're either Polish or Slovak or Hungarian. And this weekend, we all come home. It brings joy to my heart to see people celebrating my heritage.

MAYA PEREZ: My name is Maya Perez (ph).

PUENTE: Are you Polish?

PEREZ: No, Mexican.

PUENTE: How did you become an expert on making pierogi?

PEREZ: My brother-in-law bought the restaurant being already a Polish restaurant, and he learned their recipes.

PUENTE: I'm finding out most of the people who are cooking the pierogis aren't really polish.

PEREZ: Yes, that's true (laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Next in line.

PUENTE: There's at least 50 people waiting in line at this one pierogi stand.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Anything else?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: We have potato cheddar.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: First name...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: We have sauerkraut. We have meat. We have sweet cheese, or we have mushroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Can I try some...

PUENTE: At Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Ind., I'm Michael Puente for NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.