Cracovia is one my favorite State Fair spots, if not my very favorite. It's located where the racing pigs bend the corner around at Second Street and Central Avenue, right next to the giant slide, and I first discovered it when my band had an annual gig at the now-gone but once-adjacent Activity Dome.
Not only is Cracovia conveniently flanked by the giant slide and the pig races, but there's the sausage, too. And they sell High Life! Saz's mozzarella sticks are a mere 30 feet away, too.
With the polka band swinging inside and the sausage and latkes steaming on the church basement-style tables – with applesauce or syrup – this nook offers more than shelter from the blazing sun or pouring rain.
It dishes up an Old Milwaukee vibe rarely found in Milwaukee anymore, outside of the Public Museum's Streets of Old Milwaukee.
There's good Polish food here, great polka and the kind of welcoming, spirited, down-home atmosphere that I picture my great-grandparents enjoying in their Milwaukee. All that's lacking is some good air flow on a sizzling hot day.
Really, you can keep your cream puffs and your Ron Popeil gadgets, just give me an hour in Cracovia and my State Fair experience is complete.
It is, undoubtedly, a State Fair classic.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.