For those of you wishing to skip a blatant attempt to avoid the rigors of scrapbooking, scroll down to find the usual, meatier fare.
In my continuing quest to educate America about Milwaukee's tourist attractions, may I present the family's 2005 trip to Polish Fest, America's largest Polish festival.
We went at the request of my father-in-law, who along with his wife volunteered at the event.
Along with the upcoming (and mammoth) SummerFest, Milwaukee is home to different ethnic festivals almost every weekend in the summer - Irish Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest, Asian Moon, Mexican Fiesta, and more.
Held on the Henry Maier Festival Grounds on the shore of Lake Michigan, with the skyline and the lake as a backdrop, Polish Fest is in its 24th year of showcasing the cultural, religious, and political heritage of Poland.
(yeah, yeah, skip your jokes - among others, Poland has produced Chopin, Copernicus, John Paul II, and most importantly, moi)
That's not to say the festival doesn't recognize a certain flair for goofiness, as if it's embracing the stereotypes as a means of rejecting them.
That, or the festival organizers really are as corny as I am.
There's the Polka Police, uniformed accordion-carrying men that will stop and ask you to Polka. There's tongue-in-cheek T-shirts galore:
"Czarnina is bloody good"
"Beer Polka Beer"
"You bet your dupa I'm Polish"
and the one my eldest wore, garnering her some great reactions from the crowd:
"Part Polish is Better than None"
Sure, there's plenty of beer and a Polka stage (which, honestly, doesn't make it al that unusual in Milwaukee) but there's also a rock stage, a classical music competition, ethnic dances, craft displays, a Polish mass, and scores of shops.
There's also, it goes without saying, all manner of Polish food available. Unfortunately, as thefestival fell a day before payday we didn't have the funds and chose to eat when we got home.
Well, chose is a bit of a euphemistic way to put it, but still . . .
[embarrassing secret that betrays my ancestors: like German food, I find Polish food too heavy for my taste. But I do have a solid appreciation for vodka - straight, no chaser - just the way my first landlord, a Polish immigrant, taught me to enjoy it.]
Our one splurge at the fest was a ride on the ski lift that operates between both ends of the grounds. I took both girls along, and while they had a blast (bopping their heads to the music beneath us and saying with awe "we're higher than Spiderman") I was kind of nervous when Middle Child decided she was too big to have me hold her on the ride.
The girls played in a splash pool on the grounds and tore the heck out of a huge playground located at the festival. We also browsed the lakefront and a collection of sculptures depicting Polish folk tales.
Not exactly a night at the Roxbury, but a fine time for all - even if it was scorching in the sun.
Come check it out if you're in town next year.