GreatNews.Life Student Voices: Whiting begins preparations for 30 years of Pierogi Fest

GreatNews.Life Student Voices: Whiting begins preparations for 30 years of Pierogi Fest

What recently happened? 

At the beginning of June, the Whiting Public Library (WPL) started its summer reading program. According to Adrienne DeLuna, the youth services librarian at WPL, the program is crucial to students on break because it helps to prevent a learning loss during the summer, along with building a love for reading. 

The reading program is not just about the reading itself, it's also about building a community and stronger bonds with people you love. Throughout this program, the library offers multiple free events and activities for people of all ages. 

The summer reading program is for kids from birth to age 18, and the theme this year is Adventure Begins at Your Library. The program is split into two age groups, birth statistics grade, and seventh through 12th grade. Each group receives a tracking log for all of the books they read and will also receive small prizes throughout the program and raffle tickets after a certain number of books for the chance to earn a larger price at the end of the summer

“Throughout the program, the library also hosts numerous events and activities, all of which are free to the public. This initiative is generously supported by an educational grant from the City of Whiting. It's a program I look forward to every year, and I love interacting with the kids and families that come in,” said DeLuna.

This program is not only for kids on summer break. The library also has an adult summer reading program. Adults are also given a reading log to track all of the books they read this summer and after reading books they receive a raffle ticket at the chance of receiving a larger prize at the end of the summer. 

“The library is a place for everyone, and there are many people in town who do not take advantage of it. It's not the library that many people remember; quiet and just for reading and studying. It's more of a community center now, and we offer everything from hotspots, tools, board games, video games, electronics, and much more,” said DeLuna. 

The summer reading program is still ongoing and is still available for sign-ups. Even if you're not interested in signing up for the reading program, the WPL holds a ton of events and activities during the summer for people of all ages.

What’s coming up? 

Whiting prepares to celebrate 30 years of Pierogi Fest. Pierogi Fest this year will be held from July 26 to July 28. It all kicks off on the 26th at 7 p.m. from 118th Street to Atchison Avenue.

“The Times of Northwest Indiana” recently named the Pierogi Fest as one of the best festivals in the area with its Best of the Region award. Bringing in about 300,000 visitors per year, Pierogi Fest is the third largest fest in the state and brings together hundreds of food, craft, and game vendors. 

Pierogi Fest is not just the vendors. It’s about celebrating Eastern European heritage and having fun. Pierogi Fest began with Marty Dybel’s idea to create a fest in Whiting that celebrated its ethnic heritage. 

This has become a very popular event not just in Whiting, but across the Region. 

If you are looking for something to do this summer, come check out Pierogi Fest. It is fun for people of all ages with all kinds of entertainment and activities. 

Community member spotlight:

Otilia Alvarez is a community member of Whiting Indiana, and owner of Whiting's most popular ice cream shop, Whihala Ice Cream. Alvarez had left Whiting when she was 11 to move to Mexico, where she met her now husband in high school. When they were 30 years old they decided to come back to Whiting. 

“I love my little city. I'm very proud of our small business and people like our homemade ice cream,” said Alvarez. 

After working in downtown Chicago for several years they decided to open Whihala Ice Cream in 2016. The shop was opened in front of the Oil City Stadium and gained massive popularity. This shop is open during the spring and summer, with carts also in Whiting Park. 

Recently, the Alvarez’s opened a second location in the downtown area of Whiting. This location is much bigger than the first one with much more open space and seating. 

“It was a long process to open the new shop but it was worth it. The new one will be open all year round, while the first one will still be seasonal,” said Alvarez. 

Both locations have had great business and even better ice cream. When looking for something to do, or a sweet treat, make sure to think of Whihala Ice Cream.