Dyngus Day

South Bend Tribune Photo Archives

While campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the widow and son of Robert Kennedy visited Indianapolis on April 4, 2008, for a commemoration of the late New York Senator’s 1968 speech announcing Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination on the 40th anniversary of King’s death.  

Four people stand in front of an old black stove. The mayor is wearing a paper toque
Jennifer Weingrt


Politicians and voters are celebrating Dyngus Day. The Polish celebration of the end of lent is also a big political holiday, particularly in South Bend.

Dyngus Day in South Bend started in 1930 at the West Side Democratic Club.

Back then the neighborhood was largely Polish, now it’s mostly populated by people of color.

Dyngus Day events are on today across Michiana. The Polish feast day is a traditional end-of-lent holiday. In South Bend the day is also a big Democratic political event.


Events at the West Side Democratic Club, the longest-running Dyngus Day, start at 9 with politicians and candidates giving speeches around noon. Polish sausage, cabbage, eggs and noodles are on the menu.

 Other Democratic Dyngus Day events

St. Joseph County Public Library

In this debut of Michiana Stories, Polka musician Kenny Bartkowiak shares memories of music and Dyngus Day in South Bend with his daughter, Amy.

Michiana Stories is a production of the St. Joseph County Public Library and 88.1 WVPE and airs Mondays at 7:45 AM during Morning Edition and at 4:45 PM during All Things Considered.

Music: "I Remember Polka" by the Soundsations and "I wouldn't change you polka" by E-Z Tones

Kennedy smiles and shakes hands with enthusiastic crowds in a black and white photo
Courtesy of Michael G. Gotsch Jr.


Monday is Dyngus Day, a Polish celebration of the end of Lent and, in Northern Indiana, a big deal in political circles.

Fifty years ago South Bend experienced one of it’s biggest Dyngus Day events when Senator Robert Kennedy visited while campaigning for the Indiana Democratic presidential primary.

Indiana was a must-win for Bobby Kennedy in 1968. Lyndon Johnson had just announced he would not run and Kennedy was too late for early primaries. Indiana was his first chance to prove he could get votes.