Pierogi party

Port Richmond Pierogi Fest ready to roll at Campbell Square this weekend.

Clowning around: Children enjoy clown games during the Port Richmond Community Festival. PHOTO COURTESY OF STATE STREET EVENTS.

By Melissa Komar

It’s been argued Port Richmond is the unofficial pierogi capital of the city, so, it’s only fitting an event dedicated to celebrating the delicacy would be held in the heart of the neighborhood.

This Saturday, Port Richmond Pierogi Fest will take over Campbell Square offering guests a taste of all types of pierogies and Polish entertainment, along with more than 100 vendors and tons of kids’ activities.

The event is being organized by State Street Events, an events coordination agency, in conjunction with Friends of Campbell Square.

Pierogi Fest marks the fourth event planned by the agency at the neighborhood staple.

And, while there’s obviously a business aspect in bringing in an outside company to set up the community event, for State Street Events founder and owner Melissa Michalczyk, there’s a personal connection.

“I was born and grew up in Port Richmond. My family is from there as well, so it’s nice to give back to my heritage, which is the Polish community, and the park” she said. “The park is very sentimental to me as my grandfather, who was like a father to me, and me would go there and feed the squirrels peanuts. I spend a lot of my childhood running around the park and just looking up at the big trees.”

Michalczyk eventually moved from the neighborhood, but not lives in Bridesburg.

“Moving back to the area has really brought back wonderful memories for me,” she added. “[Friends of Campbell Square] were doing a cleanup one day and I volunteered and I talked to people about what I do and they were interested in me putting on events at the park.”

The first event, Port Richmond Community Festival, took place June 2018 and drew more than 3,000 guests.

For local businesses,it’s the perfect opportunity to gain some visibility.

“The main objective for my company is to bring communities together, to raise community awareness, to help small businesses in the community and create a platform for them,” she said. “This gives [the businesses] a nice platform for the people in their community to see a business on the street they might not normally go to.”

Some businesses from the neighborhood that will be represented include Neighborhood Real Estate and the Breathing Room Yoga.

Donna’s Bar will make their signature pierogies and Czerw’s will serve its renowned kielbasa.

Polish entertainment will include PKM Polish Folk Dance Ensemble, Janosik Polish Dance Ensemble, and the Port Richmond All Stars Polish Folk Band.

Other businesses include the Pierogie Kitchen, The Galley at Starboard Side Tavern, and the Pierogi Factory.

Some vendors will do live pierogi-making demonstrations.

The Polish American Cultural Center, the Polish American Radio Program and the Polish American Newspaper will also attend.

Additional entertainment includes School of Rock, a beatbox champion, and a Michael Jackson impersonator.

Friends of Campbell Square president Brendan Black came up with the initial concept, and considered working with State Street Events to be “a really good partnership” that “has allowed the group to increase the depth and breadth” of what it offers the community.

“The Friends of Campbell Square hope Pierogi Fest allows the people of Port Richmond the opportunity to see Campbell Square in a different light,” he said. “It’s a beautiful park because of all the programming.”

Although this is only the first year Pierogi Fest is being held at Campbell Square, Black is hopeful it will be an annual occurrence “to improve the park quality through increased plantings and maintenance while continuing to add additional programs.”

Michalczyk has the same vision for the park where she spent countless hours growing up.

A portion of the proceeds from the event are donated to Friends of Campbell Square.

“There’s going to be something to do for everybody, and that’s what we want,” she said. “That’s the main thing: We want people to enjoy the park. For Friends of Campbell, it’s to keep the park alive and utilized. It’s for kids to play in and create memories, people to walk their dogs in, take their family and just enjoy the space.”

Port Richmond Pierogi Fest will be held on Saturday, May 4, from noon to 5 p.m. at Campbell Square, Belgrade Street and Allegheny Avenue. The event is picnic-style and guests are encouraged to bring blankets. For more details, visit Port Richmond Pierogi Fest on Facebook.

Friends of Campbell Square are always looking for volunteers. For more details on the friends group, visit the Friends of Campbell Square Facebook page.