May 4, 2019 was when State Street Events held its first Port Richmond Pierogi Festival and by all accounts it didn’t go so well.
“We sold out of pierogies and got pretty beat up for it,” said the event’s organizer, Melissa Michalczyk. The 10,000 people who showed up from all across the Philadelphia region was way more than planners expected, but with the 2020 iteration of the pierogi festival canceled due to COVID, Michaelczyk and company are looking to correct the errors they made the first time around in the 2021 edition of the festival.
“What I think is going to really help us this year is that it’s going to be a smaller event after a year we just had,” said Michaelczyk. “People are still reserved about coming out and being in crowds. We’re looking at the logistics and the numbers and over-preparing for that.”
One change Michaelczyk made is by doubling the number of pierogi vendors onsite. Confirmed vendors include Nemi Philadelphia, Czerw’s and Donna’s Bar. On top of that, each vendor will have two locations at this year’s festival. It will be held on Aug. 28 from noon to 5 p.m.
Furthermore, the location is different this year. It’s being held at the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Center, located at 3254 Tulip St. The main part of the event will be outside, but festival-goers will be able to go inside to cool off, eat and use the bathrooms. A nearby parking lot, which can fit about 400 cars according to Michaelczyk, will be available to those who come to the festival.
“People complained a lot about parking the first year,” said Michaelczyk.
Another big change will be the addition of a beer garden.
“Adding that extra feature this year is going to be great,” said Michaelczyk, noting that Stateside Vodka and Interstate Drafthouse will be alcoholic vendors at the festival.
For the kids, the event will feature a moonbounce, sand art and obstacle courses, “which will be sanitized,” said Michaelczyk.
A local band called Little Sister and Joey K from Special K Polka Band will be on hand for entertainment, along with dancers from the PKM Polish Folk Dance Ensemble.
“It’s a Polish-cuisine neighborhood,” Michaelczyk said of Port Richmond, which is where she was born and raised. “If you go up and down the Allegheny corridor, it’s just Polish restaurants after Polish bakeries and Polish candy stores.”
It’s what makes the neighborhood such a logical spot for a pierogi festival. But most of all, Michaelczyk wants to support small businesses who were hurt financially by the pandemic.
“It’s important that we continue to support these businesses who have struggled through the pandemic and also through what the new Port Richmond is becoming,” said Michaelcyzk. “It’s really nice to do these festivals for the neighborhood to bring up the morale in the community, and that’s why I do them.”
The Port Richmond Pierogi Festival will be held on Aug. 28 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Center. For more information, visit the festival’s Facebook event page.