Dyngus Day — that Polish festival in Gordon Square that celebrates the end of Lent and a post-Easter letting loose — dawned gray and rainy in Cleveland. Not that it mattered, because the huge, all-day/all-night revel which I was told is the biggest business day of the year for local bars, surpassing even St. Patrick’s Day, wasn’t going to take place.
Not live, anyway. Instead, thanks to the sponsorship of Cleveland International Records, run by Steve Popovich Jr, son of the legendary music business executive who championed Cleveland polka king Frankie Yankovic, Cleveland’s 10th annual Dyngus Day took place on YouTube and Facebook.
The two-hour event was hosted, as usual by Justin Gorski in his DJ Kishka guise — this time from his living room and oddly sunny backyard. Spinning records from an outdoor DJ booth with help from his kids and crowning his daughter this year’s Miss Dyngus Day, he introduced musical guests Alex Meixner, who performed his newly penned “Social Distancing Polka,” Fred Ziwich and the Chardon Polka Band, who assembled audio and video by piecing together the members performing from their own homes.
The online event also featured participants doing the Chicken Dance at distant locations, cooking demonstrations by Lidia Trempe of Rudy’s in Parma, making pierogies, and Katy O’Boyle, preparing “Hunkie Hand Grenades,” and comments from special guests such as former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Melt Bar and Grilled owner Matt Fish, veteran Nashville sideman Joey Miskulin who got his start as a teenager in the Frankie Yankovich Band, and Jesse Ackerman, head strength coach for the Atlanta Falcons.
The best part is you can still watch it online and you won’t get jostled by a crowd of drunk people. How many festivals can you enjoy over and over after the fact? Crack open a beer and go here.