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Taste America 2007

The Great Outdoors with a Polish Spin

The Polish American Congress (PAC) once again represented the Polish American community at Taste America, an event that took place on the Capitol Hill on August 2, 2007.

As in previous years Taste America, an invitation-only reception attended exclusively by members of the U.S. Congress with their families, took place in the Members Dining Room at the U.S. Capitol in the Nations Capital. It is estimated that this year the event attracted more than 600 visitors.

Each year, during the seventeen years the event has been held, a different theme showcased the different aspect of American culture. This year's theme was The Great Outdoors and was tailored to promote and celebrate outdoor activities for all age groups.

In 2006, at Taste America 2006: E Pluribus Unum, the PAC Washington Office prepared a display showing numerous contributions of Poles and Polish Americans to the American history and culture (see the report here).

The Polish American Congress was proud to be invited again to be one of the displaying entries. For the this year's event, the Washington Office, again under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Borzuchowska Andersen, prepared an impressive display entitled: "The Great Outdoors with a Polish Spin", that was designed to show Polish landmarks in the Untied States as well as to promote Polonia-related outdoor activities.

Taste America Display by
the Polish American Congress

New and returning visitors to the event commented that the PAC exhibit was one of the most informative and noteworthy efforts on display. There were roughly 15 other displayers, which included the National Park Service, Coast Guard, tourism organizations, Monticello Gardens, Organization of American States, as well as selected vendors, such as Glacier, Coors, CocaCola and McDonalds.

The most impressive part of the display was a large, wall sized map of the United States, which showed not only the numerical distribution of Polish Americans in each state of the Union, but foremost, presented Polish landmarks that can be found in each state. For display purposes, those administrative, geographical and cultural markers were organized into the following categories:

  1. Administrative Landmarks (Roads, Streets, Avenues, Drives, Highways, Plazas, Squares, Bridges, Cities, Towns, Counties);
  2. Parks & Recreation (Parks, Trails, Sport Clubs, and Sport Associations);
  3. Monuments & Memorials (Monuments, Memorials, Statues, and Forts);
  4. Worship (Churches, Cemeteries);
  5. Arts, Culture & Cuisine (Cultural Centers, Museums, Art Galleries, Theaters, Libraries, Social Clubs, Restaurants/Bars), and
  6. Events (regularly held Festivals, Parades, Folk Events, Balls, Sport Tournaments).

A welcoming letter from PAC President Frank Spula, who attended the event, noted that all of those markers that today are embedded into the landscape of every state, commemorate and immortalize "centuries of the founding of towns such as Kosciuszko or Pulaski; the building of Polish churches; the naming of the landscape, parks and streets, the erecting of monuments dedicated to Polish heroes, moral and patriotic leaders, and commemorating some of the most dramatic events in the history of Poland."

On the map, each category was represented by an icon; in various instances there was also a number next to the icon that indicated the quantity of items within each category that are present in the given state (for example, in the state of Illinois, there are 21 Administrative Landmarks, 13 items within the category of Parks and Recreation; 2 in Monuments and Memorials, 47 items in the category of Worship; 50 items in the category of Arts, Culture and Cuisine, and 8 items in the category of Events). Similar information was researched for every state of the Union and displayed on the map. (Please note, the listing compiled in the Washington Office is a first attempt of this type, and it was unavoidable that some of the landmarks may have been omitted.)

Next to the map, the PAC placed a large poster with a detailed directory of all of the landmarks that were presented, so that the visitors could locate the state that they were interested in, and see what specific Polish markers were included on the map (e.g. Pulaski Street, Copernicus Way, Poland Town [including information regarding the county where the town is located, as well as its population], Kosciuszko county, Pulaski Park, etc.) The same information was printed in a hand-out titled Beyond Kosciuszko and Pulaski distributed to visitors (see it here - PDF bookmarked by state).

 
Jamestown special presentation
In addition, two special presentations were featured. The first one highlighted the arrival of first Polish craftsmen to the Jamestown colony on October 1, 1608 who worked as glassmakers and produced pitch and tar and lumber for the colony, and for export to Britain. For the Polish American community, this date marks the birth of the American Polonia!

Another frequently unknown fact was emphasized during the event - that it was Polish craftsmen who, when denied voting rights regarding the future of the Colony, organized the first and successful strike for civil rights on the American continent.

The second special presentation showed the monumental work that for the nearly 60 years is continuing to be created by the Korczak Ziolkowski family the mountain-side carving of the tribute to the fabled Lakota Indian leader, known as the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Numerous posters, books, brochures, DVDs, photographs, background stories, and other items helped to familiarize the visitors with this immense and magnificent project.

     
Crazy Horse Monument special presentation 

Other information presented included publications and handouts about the Polish American Congress, its mission, accomplishments and history. The last part of the display offered sampling of various Polish delicacies: Polish juices, sweets, chocolate, kabanosy (a type of Polish sausage) and selection of breads.  

 
Information: Handouts and publications,
plus promotional items
Also, the PAC once again, presented all visiting legislators with numerous give-away items. Those included a selection of printed informational materials, such as brochures, handouts, pamphlets and books (e.g. about Jamestown) CDs with music by the Polish composer Chopin, as well as items tailored to promote outdoor activities, such as large beach balls, compasses and pedometers (all with the PAC logo).

Finally, each of the visitors received a favor bag that contained a color newsletter summarizing the display that also included information about all of the sponsors; selection of handouts and brochures (full color brochures of Jamestown and Crazy Horse, handouts on Panna Maria, Texas; Kosciuszko and West Point, New York; Pulaski and Savannah, Georgia; Crazy Horse, North Dakota; Sister Cities, Sister Parks, and the Polish American Congress, its accomplishments and mission), sample of Polish Bison Grass Vodka and apple juice, as well as selection of Polish sweets (hard candy and chalwa).

Special thanks are due to all of our sponsors: Mr. Adam Bak and Adamba, The American Institute of Polish Culture, Chopin Foundation of the United States, The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, Mr. Ludwik Wnekowicz and DomaExport; Wedel; Hortex, Sophia's Place in Baltimore, The Polish American Jamestown Committee, US Pharmacia, Vavel and Wawel; as well as to our summer associates: Ms. Lucyna Brylinska-Padney, Mr. Joshua Holshouser and Ms. Katarzyna Kielbasa. Our display would not be possible without their generosity and help.

Washington D.C. Office
Polish American Congress

Reactions of PAC National Directors & Officers

 
The Crew of the Polish American Congress (from the left):
Dr. Barbara B. Andersen, President Frank Spula,
and summer associates Joshua D. Holshouser, Katarzyna Kielbasa and Lucyna Brylinska-Padney 
 
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