The Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, the Gary Chamber of Commerce and The Times of Northwest Indiana plan on making this year's Pierogi Fest® in Downtown Whiting (July 24-26) the most welcoming event of its type, as well as plan to demonstrate the region's continuing commitment to the "Community Civility Counts" campaign. Pierogi Fest® draws national and international attention, and has been named by TripAdvisor, Yahoo.com and many others as a "must-see" event.

The approach is simple: in building on the Gary Chamber's civility campaign first announced in April, and in follow-up to the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber's "Everyone is Welcome" campaign, organizers of Pierogi Fest® have lined up local elected officials, business leaders, charitable organizations and individuals to serve as greeters to the more than 275,000 attendees of the festival.

"It's really a simple but nice gesture to have every attendee be welcomed to this year's Pierogi Fest®," stated Tom Dabertin, festival chairman and president of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce.

Dabertin admits that the idea of having greeters came to him after watching the movie "Animal House," which depicts a very friendly character, Eric Stratton, greeting pledges at a rambunctious party.

"It struck me as a comical scene, but it also says a great deal about being welcome," said Dabertin. "Besides, the movie is the inspiration for the annual Pierogi Fest® Parade which draws more than 75,000 attendees to watch the hilarious mayhem."

This year's festival features more than 75 food vendors, making it one of the largest food festivals in the Midwest (non-fair), 100 arts and crafts booths, 25 specialty vendors (also known as Chotchkie or tchotchke, or just stuff people buy), a massive and enlarged beer garden, and music and entertainment for everyone.

In addition to TripAdvisor, Pierogi Fest® has been named by Oprah Winfrey as one of her favorite things to do for five years straight; named as The Times of Northwest Indiana's Best Festival for ten consecutive years; a Blue Ribbon Festival of Summer in 2013 by Yahoo.com; featured on The Food Channel, Travel Channel, television stations throughout the United States, CNN, and television stations in Germany, Slovakia, Poland, China and Australia.

For more information regarding the festival, contact the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce at 219-659-0292, or Tom Dabertin, chairman, at 219 218-2735.