WATCH NOW: ‘Buscias’ entertains with annual cooking show at Pierogi Fest | Whiting News

WHITING – There’s nothing quite like a grandma, especially when she’s wearing curlers, knee-high stockings and lots of lipstick.

Add a wholesome use of the word “damn,” and you have the buscias, polish for grandmas, from Pierogi Fest.

Six women entertained on Saturday with their annual cooking show, this year themed ‘Wizard of Oz’.

“There’s no place like home for a great meal, family, friends and camaraderie,” said Carolyn Kruszynski, one of the six, adding “and a bit of Jeezy,” a Polish liquor.

Robertsdale resident Kruszynski said there aren’t many requirements to be buscia.

“Being a grandmother,” she explained, “means you take care of your family. She cooks, cleans, laughs and makes sure everyone is taken care of.

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Most buscias hail from the Hammond-Whiting area, and most have been together nearly every festival year since 1993.

“We appreciate each other,” Kruszynski said. “Our cheeks hurt from laughing and we love interacting with people.”

These people come from all over, including North and South Carolina, Texas and Maryland. Buscias has met international visitors from Africa, Australia, Poland and the former Yugoslavia.

Media coverage also attracts visitors, Kruszynski said. Some people discovered the festival on the Travel Channel. Others, she said, “saw him on the news in the morning and came in the evening.”

Sue Betustak, a 20-year veteran, said being buscia is “just a lot of fun. We laugh a lot and we meet a lot of people from all over the region and the country.

Theresa Meyer is a relatively new six-year-old buscia. Originally from Robertsdale and a graduate of Clark High School, she now lives in Hobart. His two daughters, both recent college graduates, were in the audience at the Oliver Street stage.

Besides the fun aspect, Meyer said, “I’m carrying on my legacy. My father came to this country from Poland in 1952. I was the third child, so I understand some Polish.

Meyer tries to keep traditions alive, like oplatki wafers at Christmas.

At the time of the cooking show, John Lovasko, the husband of one of the buscias, was leading the women.

Dressed in bright green like the great and mighty Oz, Lovasko commented, “My wife convinced me.”

Each show begins with the concoction of the libation because, as the buscias say, “Alcohol makes everything go better.”

This year’s ‘buscia drink’ featured blue curacao, vodka and orange and pineapple juices and was topped with a maraschino cherry. Fruit juices, according to women, provide the drinker with vitamin C.

First, cucumber sandwiches as a starter, followed by sausage and sauerkraut and homemade pierogies.

As Kruszynski noted, “It’s all safe, and if not, they know where we live.”

Judging by the audience responses, many people make their own pierogies. Recipes vary, but a constant, certainly among buscias, is butter, from dipping to frying.

After eating these pierogies, Kruszynski told the women, “You’ll never have to use lip gloss again.”

Although the buscias can’t give out samples of their cooking to everyone, they set a table for two local women, Margaret Saliga and Ann Kruszynski.

Both women praised the meal. “Can I reserve a place for next year? asked Ann Kruszynski.

Saying they had “no time” to make desserts, the buscias gave their audience Ding Dong chocolate treats in honor of the song of the dead witch from The Wizard of Oz.

There was also time for a party to pin the heart on the Tin Man. Using a cardboard cutout of the Scarecrow, Iron Man and Cowardly Lion, the buscias moved their target to further confuse the contestants. For their efforts, the contestants received a “luxury” prize consisting of a giant lollipop or a soap kit on a rope.

Gayleen Hume of Stickney, Illinois actually glued the Tin Man.

“I loved the show,” said Hume, who is somewhat Polish. “They are great.”

Carol Bobby, from Raleigh, North Carolina, was at Pierogi Fest for the first time, accompanied by her three sisters.

“The show was great,” said Bobby, whose mother is of Ukrainian descent. “They had so much fun doing their stuff.”

Rick and Melanie Aulbach, of Annapolis, Maryland, are also part of the family. “The show was fantastic,” said Rick. “They just flowed with their routines.”

Melanie Aulbach, who makes her own pierogies and had her mother make an apron in 1950, added: “I fell in love with buscias.”

She said she combines her potato and kraut toppings in pierogies to “reduce the acidity.”

Diane Kaminsky, the buscia who made the sausage and kraut, said that regardless of her ethnicity, “we remind them of their grandmothers.”

Kaminsky also passes on his culinary heritage to his young niece, Maggie Peller, of Whiting.

“It helped me a lot,” Peller said. “I learn the traditions and pass them on to a younger generation.”