Loosen up your belt – the Pierogi Fest is here

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First Posted: 6/10/2014

Pierogi, perogi, pierogy, pyrohy, pirogi, pyrogie, or pyrogy – it doesn’t matter how you spell it because if you serve it, the Northeastern Pennsylvania masses will come.

At least that’s what the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival – set to run June 13 and 14 – found out when it comes to the delicious stuffed dough pockets of Polish descent.

Back in October, a group of people assembled with a plan to celebrate the growth of Edwardsville that would bring the community together. What they first formulated didn’t take so well.

“We first called it the Edwardsville Old Home Festival,” said Ken Weiss, a member of said committee and owner of KJ’s Pickle Barrel on Main Street in the town. “People were like, ‘What is that?’ and it just didn’t get any steam behind it.”

That is until February rolled around and a name change was implemented.

“We took the Facebook page for that festival and changed it to ‘Edwardsville Pierogi Festival,’” Weiss continued. “We did that the Tuesday after our meeting, when we had about 250 ‘likes.’ By Wednesday, we had over 2,000. We also went from two vendors to being bombarded with people wanting to be a part of it.”

As of press time, there were 3,087 likes on the page, evidence that, as typical NEPA happenings go, if you promise some traditional and homemade chow, people will flock.

There will be a cook-off come Saturday to showcase local skills, with prizes being awarded in three categories for pierogis – Best Vendor Pierogi, Best Church Pierogi, and Best Neighborhood Pierogi – as well as Best Piggies, Best Welsh Cookie, and – something that may be familiar to those who grew up in Edwardsville quite a while ago – Best Rozy Cozy.

“A Rozy Cozy is something that a restaurant, that unfortunately no longer exists here, served,” Weiss said. “It’s pretty much a large meatball that’s grilled on both sides, then finished cooking in Rozy Cozy sauce, which is tomato-based.”

Konefal’s Restaurant will be serving Rozy Cozy sliders for the festival.

Lining Main Street will not only be spectacular food, but local crafts and vendors, as well as puppet shows and face painting for the kids. Entertainment is provided on both nights, with Keystone Kids and the Pie Eyed Preachers, a Celtic band, on June 13 and Hangin’ with FOG and Jon Stevens’ Doubleshot on June 14.

Overall, the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival is all about a sense of community.

“We wanted to have some sort of event to highlight the fact that the town is coming back around,” Weiss said. “Improvements are happening on Main Street: new businesses, parking lots to sustain those businesses, open space for new businesses to move in.

“Also, a lot of the churches are gone now, and with that went a lot of different bazaars. We want to make this an annual thing, a way for the community to be a part of something they’re familiar with, something that’s part of the heritage of the valley, and center it around a food everyone knows and loves.”

And as for that food, which not only varies in name but in filling and topping, how does Weiss like his?

“I’m a traditional cheese guy, as long as they’re sautéed in butter and onion.”