Jeff Vrabel: Rallying the crowd with pierogi pride

Jeff Vrabel

My stars, has it been a year already?

I am asking this question, very simply, to be annoying, because why would be I asking myself a question in print? It makes no sense. It's not like I'm gonna answer myself.

"Excellent point, Jeff!"

"Why, thank you, handsome."

But indeed, it has been 12 full months since I first attempted to wield my considerable power and influence as a pinhead columnist in the newspaper (the inky, easily wettable thing that contains all those stories you can get online for free) to swing the results of the annual Mrs. T's Capital of the Pierogy Pocket of America competition. This is basically the Nobel Prize of potato-based competitions all year, although it involves far less vote-tampering and gangster pipe-beatings.

Regular readers of this column, which according to my blog stats are my mom and some sort of spyware originating from Langley, Va., will remember that last year I attempted to secure a victory at PierogiFest.

With the help of my cousin Kevin and a large anthropomorphic potato dumpling christened Mister Pierogi that looked like a large lumpy bean with feet, I represented Whiting, Ind., where much of my family resides and which is home to PierogiFest.

In its 15 years, PierogiFest has grown to become pretty much the biggest deal in town all year, now that the extended Vrabel family no longer hosts their annual Bocce Ball and A Few Cases Of Stroh's Party in Forsythe Park every summer. (We had T-shirts, which, incidentally, tasted way better than the Stroh's.)

Ours was a good plan. We had operatives situated in every part of the country, we made a bright and articulate argument in these pages, and we refrained from going negative.

For instance, we failed to note that Binghamton, N.Y., which was named the eventual winner of the 2008 competition, had like all kinds of ties to radicals in the 1960s, which we're not going to bring up this year either, even though they totally did. But, you know, whatever, if you guys are cool with winning because you're a town of shadowy violent Communist radicals, who are we to say anything, right?

But as has happened with every single election I've been involved with since 1990, including my involvements with Student Council, the Young Shriners, the Junior Kiwanis, the 2004 presidential race, the Pep Club and the varsity cheerleading squad for some reason, things did not go my way.

Whiting eventually ended up losing to Binghamton, whose residents, very graciously, objected fairly to my characterization of their town as unfit to clean Whiting's spatula when it came to pierogi creation. I also indicated Binghamton was not locate-able via Google Earth, which was mean. I also referred to all of Binghamton's residents as, and I'm quoting myself here, "lumberjacks."

Not this year. This year we are regrouping, refocused. We are motivated, and we are united. And we are not going to let That One (points to Upstate New York) steal our incredibly carb-loaded thunder again. WHITING '08. YES WE CAN.

To vote, go to before Oct. 24, and click on "Meet The Cities And Vote Now." And then, you know, vote for Whiting. Because I'll know it if you don't. I'm not kidding. I have friends in Langley.

Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer who has not yet returned to the Junior Kiwanis; they know why. He can be reached at