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Riverhead Polish Fair will have a queen this year

Members of the Maximilian Kolbe Polish Dance Group

Members of the Maximilian Kolbe Polish Dance Group perform the chicken dance during the Polish Town USA 2011 Street Fair and Polka Festival in Riverhead. (Aug. 20, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Riverhead’s Polish fair in August will have a queen after all.

The fair, which has been held for the past 37 years in the appropriately named Polishtown section of Riverhead -- where the street signs are red and white -- has always had a queen until this year, when only three contestants signed up.

And each of them had problems with their applications or ability to serve. So, a few weeks ago, the organizers canceled that part of the event.

“We got a late start, and a lot of them [contestants] backed out,” said fair organizer Burte Harris. “We’re going to have to change our rules and regulations . . . maybe get youngsters from beyond Suffolk County.”

What saved the fair’s royal tradition for this year was Marta Czaplak, a runner-up last year, who has agreed to be this year’s queen.

The Polish Town Street Fair and Polka Festival, held 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 18 and 19, mostly on Pulaski Street  is free, although it costs $13 for adults to attend the polka music and dancing on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Even finding bands to play at that event posed a bit of a problem. “It’s getting harder and harder to get them,” Harris said. One band will be from Chicago, the other from Connecticut.

Harris expects big crowds. She says they come every year. “It’s wall-to-wall people,” she said. “They eat their way up and down the streets.”

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