Concertina jam session marks its 30th year

A concertina jam session that began as a small room party in 1984 will be marking its 30th year in 2013 as part of the Polka Fireworks Festival at the Seven Springs Resort in Champion, Pennsylvania, Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7.

For the past 29 years a total of over 300 different musicians from all over the United States and Canada have been a part of this jam session that has developed a loyal following among musicians and fans alike. Hosted by Steve and Adele Litwin of Binghamton, N.Y., it is just one of the many daytime musical events that take place during the Polka Fireworks festival, complementing the many live bands in the dance halls. The concertina jam will take place on Friday, July 5.

An Associate Editor and Polka Editor for the Polish American Journal, Litwin is a 2004 inductee into the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame and has been writing for polka music publications for 45 years.

For more information on the Polka Fireworks Festival and the concertina jam, visit or e-mail

Source: Polonia Media Network

VP Trish: Southington Apple Festival!

Friday, October 5, I headed east to one of my favorite places, Connecticut. This time, I was going back to volunteer at the Apple Festival in Southington. I have participated for a few years but was unable to help last year due to volunteering at my brothers’ motorcycle races.

This was the 44th Annual event which takes place in the heart of Southington surrounding the Town Green and attracts 100,000 visitors. It is an impressive event with local entertainment, a variety of contests, craft fair, rides, and on-stage music. There are quite a few wonderful food booths and that would include the Nest 307 booth. Nest 307 sells homemade pierogi (the Nest Members made 16,000 pierogi (potato-cheese and sauerkraut) and kielbasa grinders. This year, they added the Polish dinner plate which proved to be a big hit!

It’s funny how things become routine. We arrive bright and early Saturday morning, stop by the apple fritter stand (have to get there very early or stand in a ridiculously long line) work several hours, take a break, go eat a pulled pork sandwich, walk around, visit the American Legion (where we always run into several Falcon Members), head back stopping to get an apple dumpling with the works (tons more calories), then work a bit more. This year, we didn’t work anywhere near as long as we have in that past. President Jim Sokolowski and his wife Chris recruit as many folks as possible and this year, there were quite a few. To ease the parking issue, volunteers may park at the club and there are Members who shuttle folks to the booth. There again, thinking of everything, they bring change or whatever else is needed. There have been improvements each year. The first time I volunteered, I stayed at the club and cooked. The pierogi would then take a short ride to the festival. Now there is a huge cooler with the pierogi and all food items are prepared on site.

There are volunteers from most Nests in District V. District Officers-Phil Zambrello, Frania Tracz, Joe Choromanski, and John Kowarik donated time again this year. I worked the second weekend and spent time with other Nest Members.

From years of working the event, most of us do the same job each year. Mine is working the register. There are quite a few rules and one is that if you handle food, you can’t handle cash and vice versa. I get to be the cash girl. Each year, I wear a Steeler shirt which truly makes sense because there are quite a few Steeler fans in New England. It adds to the fun to joke with visitors either wearing another team shirt or a Steeler shirt. One year, a young man came to buy what we were selling, (he didn’t care what it was) because he was a huge Steeler fan.

Also as added bonus for working, Druhna Chris Sokolowski’s Mom made brownies for all the workers in the tent-they were fabulous. I took four to take some home to my son but he only got two of them!

Congratulations to Nest 307 for another great job! This event is good for the community but also good for the Polish Falcons. Thank you to all who work so hard for this event, not only the actual festival but the countless hours leading up to the preparation. Jim and Chris need to sleep for a week straight when it is over!


VP Trish: Back in the Groove!

Jim Nowogrocki, Trish, Charlie Brennan, KMOX Radio announcer

It’s been awhile since I have written, hopefully, I will be back in the groove. I may go back in time and talk about previous issues and events but this time, I would like to share my experiences at the Nest 45, St. Louis festival.

So, at 3:30 a.m. on Friday, September 7, I leap out of bed so that I can get to the airport and catch my 7:00 a.m. flight to St. Louis.   As some of you know, Nest 45 holds a festival each year. This year, I was finally able to attend. I had heard so much about it and I’ll tell you words cannot describe this event! There are so many Members who work so hard both days I( and that does not count all the days of preparation!). This was their 38th Annual Festival, how about that!

Upon landing, I received a call from Druhna Sandy Czerniewski who was my chauffeur for the weekend. Sandy got tired of waiting for me so she rode the shuttle to the airport to pick me up. The driver was quite amused and I am sure she made his day! After a quick change, we headed down to the Nest. There have been quite a few improvements made to the neighborhood, things are looking good!

The co-chairs Druhny Cindy Schepker and Sharon Dominquez worked tirelessly thinking of everything to ensure that all things ran smoothly.

It was nice to see so many of our Members working at the festival. This is quite an undertaking and these folks have it mastered. Everyone knows their job and does it well. They have thought of everything! Druh Tim Czerniewski walked around constantly trading envelopes to be sure that there wasn’t too much cash in the drawers as well as getting the needed change.  There were Members responsible for nothing but emptying the trash (which was a constant!)

Heineman Family

There are Members who work the food line (Druhna Pat Heineman and her entire family were working one day-husband Bill, granddaughter Megan, grandson Ryan and his wife, Megan). Mary and Ken Blessing and all three of their sons worked either in the kitchen or at the kid’s booth. It was nice to see Druhna Vicky Aitken who gave me one of her delicious lemon loaves. The amount of baked goods sold is unbelievable, the Nest Members had made 7,000 cruschicki, which of course were all sold! Breads and nut rolls and other goodies were donated by Members.

I helped Nest President Linda Woolford and her Mom (Loretta Aemisegger) at the door, it was nice to chat with the ladies plus interact with the people who came to the door. It is really something how this event is such an important happening for the community. Several people thanked the Nest for having this festival.

There are several story boards including photos, articles and information about the Nest from generations ago on display in the dining hall. It is very interesting and was compiled by Druhna Aemisegger with help from many Members.

In the gardens out back are several booths offering games, food, or Polish items. During the day, visitors are entertained by an accordion player. As evening approaches, a Polka band takes over. Saturday evening, there is a Polka Contest. This year, I had the privilege of being a judge that was fun! I was joined by District II President Paul Sadowski, his wife Beth, along with Dennis and Laura Kazmierowicz.

Jen took care of the bar as well as many other tasks. Jan Merzweiler was in charge of one of the booths in the garden.

There are so Members whose names I haven’t mentioned and I do apologize. Many of you I know but am not sure of your last names. I do realize that you work very hard and that the Polish Falcons is privileged to have you as Members.  Rosemary, Tom, Joe, Becky, Dan, Pat, Mary, Louise, Loretta are a few!

Congratulations to another successful festival (even though it rained one evening, it was still quite a success!).  Hopefully, I will be able to attend another and I strongly encourage those of you who are within driving distance to take the trip one year and be wowed!