Voices from Russia

Monday, 27 August 2012

Kielbasa in All Shapes and Styles


Past the judges’ table they came, tray after tray of smoked and fresh kielbasa from this year’s contestants in the Plymouth Alive Kielbasa Festival, hoping for a piece of local sausage history. A Christmas tree, town scene, winter wonderland with snowmen fishing for real fish, Olympic rings, swing set, sausage mine and guillotine scene… all crafted from smoked kielbasa… made their way past the audience and judges. The fresh kielbasa, in less whimsical arrangements, had its turn on the dance floor, as Plymouth Alive President Terry Womelsdorf put it. Then, it came time for the judging, the polka music, the questionable jokes, the giant dancing sausage, and, finally, the verdict.

The winner of the fresh kielbasa crown was Bosak’s Choice Meats, leaving with their tenth crown after a year with no trophies. Just one point separated their entry from the arrangement by Tarnowski’s Kielbasa. The winner of the smoked kielbasa contest was Komensky’s Market, last year’s fresh champion. In a competition that starts with a beauty contest before it becomes a taste test of products that haven’t changed in years, presentation can be persnickety, said the contest winners. Gail Bosak, a co-owner of Bosak’s, said, “The whole idea is when they get your platter out, the audience goes, ‘Ooh, aah,’. You want to impress, but the taste and texture never change”. Brenda Sepelyak, a co-owner of Komensky’s noted that kielbasa are judged on presentation, taste, and texture, but they’re gobbled down at the festival mostly for their taste, saying, “I heard from judges that the presentation doesn’t count for all that much. When you get a good piece of kielbasa, that’s what matters to them”.

Since the contest’s exception, Janet Franchella has held it in the back room of Franchella’s Restaurant and Pub. In a few weeks, the bar will belong to Dorothy Kollar, who wants to keep the competition in the place where it’s always been. Womelsdorf said that Plymouth Alive would love to keep the contest there, but if it keeps growing, the organisers might eventually look for a bigger venue. Outside the bar, people were walking up and down Main Street sidewalks crammed with vendors, including Fetch’s Kielbasa Shop, an inaugural champion, and a winner last year.

As he manned the grill at his store’s stand, David Fetch III said that to not finish with the crown, “It hurts you a little bit. You think about what you could have done better, maybe, what you could simplify”. However, no changes are due for the 90-year-old recipe; lest his great-grandfather roll out of his grave and demand an explanation. Fetch said they’ll be back next year, and every year, as long as they’re still rolling out the barrel and eating kielbasa in Plymouth.

25 August 2012

Bill Wellock

The Citizen’s Voice (Scranton PA)


Editor’s Note:

Plymouth PA is three loud farts from Wilkes-Barre PA…its part of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, that is, it’s in the Wyoming Valley. To put it another way, it’s about 40 klicks (@25 miles) from Scranton PA, it’ll take you about 45 minutes to drive there. There… that should do it for all you kolbasa lovers out there.

See ya there next year…



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