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Polish, Hispanic festivals fill downtown Grand Rapids with ethnic delight

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —  It’s a weekend of ethnic festivals in downtown Grand Rapids: the Polish Festival and Hispanic Festival 2017.

The 38th annual Polish Festival is taking place at Rosa Parks Circle through Sunday. It features Polish culture, history, music, dancing, and – of course – tasty food.

At Rosa Parks Circle

Fox-17 spoke with Bob Szczepanek, who working at one of the food booths. He was making pierogis, which he says is a “regular dough filled with potato, cheese, onion.

“It seems to be one of the biggest items people like at the festival. We’ll probably go through 25,000 of these this weekend, with no problem.”

Szczepanek says the festival is a good learning experience: “To see how everybody else – like their food, the food, everyone’s different food. I like going around to different festivals and trying different foods. The music. And everybody here is friendly. Everybody here is just great people. Everybody likes to find out what’s going on back here. So, it’s a great time.”

The Polish Festival wraps up Sunday. It runs from noon to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, Hispanic Festival 2017 runs through 5:30pm Sunday on Calder Plaza. The 40th annual event features authentic Hispanic food, music, futbol (soccer), and a 3-on-3 Futsal Tournament (that’s a variation of soccer). The Hispanic Festival is free to attend. Speaking of food, Kristen Aidef festival Event Manager says there are a dozen different Latin-American vendors.

At Calder Plaza

Says Aidiff: “Well, my favorite…is the food. I mean, I like to be able to sample something from each of the 12 vendors. So, I have to be able to pace myself through the weekend. The entertainment when it starts, as well, is really diverse and unique. I don’t listen to a lot of Latino music, and I get a whole weekend of it. All the groups are so different, and everybody is so friendly. I encourage people to come down and check us out.”

Spectrum Health had its Mobile Mammography at the festival. Mercantile Bank sponsored a ‘Mercado’, which Aidif says had “everything from jewelry and clothing, to a lot of fair-trade items that benefit women in some of the villages.”

What else?

“We’ve got great sponsor support. A lot of sampling, a lot of games. We’ve got the ‘My Kids Can’ stage, where we’ve got YMCA and Grand Rapids Parks & Rec fitness instructors… doing 15-minute fitness segments for kids. And just a lot of people So, the sights and sounds of Hispanic Festival 2017 will be alive and well today in downtown Grand Rapids.”

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