By G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – Thomas Kielbania Jr. admits that he is just now getting some sleep again after the four-day run of the 2014 Kielbasa Festival
The Chicopee musician and businessman brought back the long dormant festival on May 15 through 18. The last edition was in 1997.
Located this year at Szot Park, the festival drew 25,000 people Kielbania estimated with 12,000 people coming on Saturday alone.
A for-profit venture, the festival may have broken even and Kielbania said if the weather hadn’t been a factor on May 15 and 16, it would have been “extremely profitable.”
He noted that he had checked with Police Chief Thomas Charette and was told there were no arrests and no incidences at the festival.
“Everyone was happy,” he said.
Kielbania said of a festival next year, “It’s going to happen. Definitely. Definitely.”
He did say that next year he is looking for Memorial Day weekend as the date for the event, rather than moving into the summer. Although he liked having it in mid-May, the Great New England Air Show
is taking place May 16 and 17, 2015 and he said he doesn’t want any conflicts.
When asked if he had a sense of who came to the event, Kielbania said, “It was a Chicopee crowd.” He expressed surprise that having the carnival rides didn’t attract more people from neighboring Springfield.
He said he plans to have a public meeting for people to express their ideas about the festival in ways of improving it in June. Kielbania said that for him there are “administrative issues” he would change and he would work to improve the “K Card” he sold which allowed festival goers to sample food at a number of vendors.
The parking worked, he said and his volunteers were “solid.” He praised the roles the city played.
“The Parks & Rec Department went way out of their way to help me,” he said. Noting that a street sweeper was assigned to cleanup the side streets, Kielbania said, “The DPW [Department of Public Works] stepped up.”
He added all of the city departments that were involved “were so beyond supportive.”
Kielbania said he particularly wanted to thank Lori Jerusik, the owner of Mutt Cuts in Chicopee, who he said formed “a committee of two” with him.
He added, “Without her this event wouldn’t have happened.”