Two Norwich festivals highlight weekend activities

Norwich — Organizers of two first-time events scheduled for this weekend hope to generate enthusiasm by city residents and visitors alike that Norwich is a place of diversity and varied attractions.

A traditional Oktoberfest will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at The Lofts at Ponemah Mill, 607 Norwich Ave. in Taftville, with proceeds from ticket sales to be split among six different groups to fund future Norwich events.

On Sunday, the new tradition that started earlier this year of block parties on the Franklin Street block between Bath and Willow streets will continue with the city’s first Polish festival, featuring food, live music, family entertainment and even a 6-foot-7-inch Polish king for the day. The street will be closed for the festival, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m. with free admission and food and goods for sale.

“We are trying to stimulate excitement and vibrancy in downtown Norwich, to be able to host events on Franklin Street, which has always been a heartbeat of the downtown,” said Suki Lagrito, liaison for the grant-funded Global City Norwich events planning group. “We’re just kind of continuing that trend in bringing the city back to life.”

Saturday’s Oktoberfest will showcase the recently completed 116 apartments and the ongoing second phase renovations at the Ponemah Mill in Taftville. Event organizer Laura Harrington, owner of Unify Business Solutions LLC, said 300 tickets had been sold by mid-week for the festival, which will feature the traditional biergarten tastings of brews from 20 breweries in Connecticut, food vendors and nonalcoholic beverages sold by Craftsman Cliff’s Roasters, the new downtown Norwich coffee shop.

Four professional chefs, including Food Network Challenge winner Jillian Moskites, will cook food for festivalgoers on the grills in the Ponemah complex outdoor picnic courtyard. Live music will be performed by Pirates for Piece.

Tickets range from $40 to $75 in advance, depending on whether food is included. Special discounts are available for those who bring a designated driver guest. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Tickets at the door will be 20 percent higher in cost, Harrington said. For information, contact Harrington at (860) 800-6118.

Sunday’s Polish Festival will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the rebirth of Poland following the end of World War I, Lagrito said. Two local churches with significant Polish members — the Devine Providence National Church on Golden Street in Greeneville and St. Joseph’s Church on Cliff Street downtown — are helping to organize the festival.

Popular Polish food, including kielbasa, golumpki (stuffed cabbage), three kinds of perogies, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, hunters’ stew, chalka (braided bread), babka, angel wings, paczki doughnuts and Polish beer, will be for sale by various food vendors. The two breweries on the block, Epicure Brewing and These Guys Brewing, will participate in the festival.

Entertainment includes the Polanie Dancers from Bridgeport, the Polka Hall of Fame band, Dennis Polisky and the Maestro’s Men and accordion player David “G” Goclowski, one of the founding members of the New Britain Polish Festival.

“To have him come out as a musician and bring his music here is going to be great,” Lagrito said.


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