PLYMOUTH — The 10th annual Plymouth Kielbasa Festival is less than one week away and, already, you can detect the aroma of garlic and horseradish emanating from old Shawnee.
The festival, the brainchild of Ed Vnuk of Sport-JES, has grown every year. The sponsoring organization is Plymouth Alive, a group of residents and business people who believe in the town and are committed to making it better.
Over the years, Plymouth Alive has made thousands of dollars in donations to the borough fire and police departments and the public library, among others.
But more than anything else, the Kielbasa Festival has brought people back to the West Side town — between 20,000 and 30,000 will walk the Main Street sampling kielbasa and other delicious offerings, as well as partaking in children’s games and listening to music of all genres.
“We’re the fastest-growing festival in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Terry Womelsdorf, chairman of Plymouth Alive. “The festival brings new people in and it brings old friends together again.”
Womelsdorf and Sue Gryziec, owner of Flowers And …, said Plymouth Alive was formed by local business owners who decide to take an active role in downtown revitalization for the betterment of the community.
“With the revitalization beginning in our town, we are looking forward to implementing some new ideas to contribute to that revitalization,” Gryziec said. “We hope that the community will continue to support us and all of the local groups trying to make a difference.”
At a meeting Wednesday night at Mergo’s Bar on West Main Street, members of the group put the final touches on the festival. Mayor Dorothy Petrosky said the festival’s 10th anniversary is a milestone.
“I remember when it was first proposed and so many people said it would never work,” Petrosky said. “And now people travel here from all over, and whatever money is raised goes back into the community. It’s amazing and it makes me feel good to see how successful it has become.”
Councilman Frank Coughlin said the festival has been very positive for the borough.
“It brings people to town to see what Plymouth has to offer,” he said. “Maybe some will like what they see and decide to open a business or come back to patronize our existing businesses.”
Plymouth’s town motto has always been “Shawnee will shine again.” Coughlin said the festival goes a long way in proving that old adage.
“It’s two days of fun and old friends getting together,” Coughlin said. “It really makes old Shawnee shine again.”
Womelsdorf said the prime sponsor for the festival is First Keystone Community Bank. He said the entertainment lineup is better than ever, especially Saturday night, when three bands will perform a the Kielbasa Rock Festival: The Neighborhood, The Whazoos and Eddie Day & TNT.
The festival begins Friday, and Saturday will begin with the annual parade, followed by the kielbasa competition at the American Legion on Center Avenue.
“We needed a bigger venue,” Womelsdorf said of the move to the legion. “We used to get 50 to 60 people in the room at the former Franchella’s Restaurant. Now we can seat more than 100.”
Womelsdorf said Scott Cannon’s Video Innovations will record highlights of the festival and post on the Plymouth Alive website: plymouthalive.org.
“Good weather or bad weather, the people still come out,” Womelsdorf said. “We tell people to come for the kielbasa, but stay for the fun.”