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Lachy Sacz , 1999 - Folkdance from southern Poland
Lachy Sacz, 1999 - Folkdance from Poland's southern Sacz region. Photo: Phil Benenati

Onion Harvest Festival

This celebration of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest is also a celebration of the heritage of the Polish immigrant farmers that settled the "Black Dirt" region of Orange County in the 19th century. When the first immigrants arrived and saw the black mucklands, they fell on their knees and kissed the soil that so resembled that of their native Poland. Recognizing that the black dirt was ideal for growing onions, they drained the swamps, cleared the land, and through hard work established the area as an onion-growing region, the largest in New York State today. Held in mid-August since 1939, the festival is filled with the pageantry of Old World costumes, music, and such national dances as the polonaise, mazur, and oberek, as well as many regional dances. More than 200 area residents from five years of age to adult danced in the 1999 festival under the direction of a trained authority in authentic Polish dance and folklore. The event also recreates the ceremonial dozynki, or harvest celebration, before the symbolic panatwo gosdodarze, or lord and lady of the manor.

Originally submitted by: Benjamin A. Gilman, Representative (20th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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