From the Blog

A Night At The Polish Fest

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Wisely, we opted not to plan any other obligations this weekend except to go to the Oktoberfest and the Polish Fest. We spent our Saturday lounging in our PJs into the wee hours of the afternoon. We decided to head over to Interstate Ave towards evening with the hope that *maybe* the crowds might be a little thinner.


It was a gorgeous, warm September day. And we must have arrived when the absolute MOST amount of people were there. There were people, and dogs and kids and babies and for some reason, doublewide strollers.


I do believe there were more people this year than last year. The layout was slightly different than last year and getting beer and food took only 15 minutes. However, the potato pancake line was daunting. The line was probably 200 deep every time I checked on it. I was advised that some folks in the line seemed not to have moved even after 45 minutes. They were easy to spot because they had memorable hair. For a while, we could gauge the movement of the line by where the “crazy hair” people were.


In the meantime, we enjoyed our delicious Pierogi ruskie, Kie?basa i Bigos, and Go??bki. And our Zywiec and Okocim. It was so crowded, we sat on a curb to eat, and needed to shelter our beer from the feet of passersby. We found a spot to watch the stage and the kids’ polka contest.


And as the evening wore on, and more beers were consumed, the ADULT polka contest began. And as we watched, I heard a proclamation from my boyfriend’s mouth, “One day, WE will win the polka contest!”


Never mind that neither of us know how to polka. Or how to dance at all. But one day, mark his words, the sweet taste of polka victory will be ours.

But, the Placki Ziemniaczane. I had not forgotten about potato pancakes, but the line never seemed to get any shorter. Friends were dubious that anything could be worth waiting in that line. But my reasoning was that we were just standing and drinking anyway. How different is it to stand and drink in a line?

I set off to see how long the wait actually was. I saw a group of people sitting on the very curb where we had eaten earlier, and they all had new plates of browned, greasy potato pancakes. I asked them how long the wait was, and one guy said “An hour!” And I asked them if it was worth it, and another guy, with his mouth full, said, “So worth it.” Damn. I thought I was the only one in Portland to love potato pancakes this much.

Then I went to the front of the line and asked a couple who were almost to the counter. They said they waited for 45 minutes. And I said “How does it make you FEEL to now be at the front of the line?” And they laughed rather nervously. They moved on, and that was the end of my potato journalism career.

I decided to wait it out. All summer, I had been looking forward to goddamned potato pancakes at the Polish Fest. I went to the back of the line and within minutes, a few dozen people filled in behind me. And while the queue did not move very quickly, the potato pancake makers were quite entertaining.

Potato Pancake Makers from Mile73 on Vimeo.

It took about half an hour to reach the front. They had four griddles going and were cooking potato pancakes as fast as they could.


I got my cakes and I loaded them up with sour cream and apple sauce. I dug into them as I meandered back to meet up with our friends. Potato pancakes. So worth it.

The crowd was beginning to thin, but we stuck around and were delighted to watch the dance party with a rocking performance by a band called Chervona. Wow. Eastern European gypsy punk? Or something? Horns, violin, accordion, clarinet drums, bass, guitars. What a fricken hoot. They are based in Portland and we will be sure to find them around town when they are playing.

In all, we were thinking it would be hard to beat how much fun we had at Oktoberfest, but, holy crap, Polish Fest is fun too. Next year, we will be sure to go even later, after dark, say 8pm, to catch the dance party, get our Placki Ziemniaczane and maybe win a polka contest.


  1. You guys do the coolest $h!t

  2. There are a few things I would wait in line an hour for. Potato pancakes are not on the list. Could they really be that good? They are just pancakes made out of potatoes, right? Am I missing something?

  3. Thanks Jen. We are trying to pack in as much as we can before the crap weather starts.

    Steve, it’s just part of going to the festival. The tokens, the lines, the fried food items. It’s like turkey on Thankgiving. You wait all year for it. We were just standing around drinking anyway. Not much different than standing around drinking while in line. Same thing, actually.

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