It all started with a photograph. While visiting Warwick Tomatoes, Kathy Weslowski and her husband, Tom, were stunned to see a large photo of Stella, Tom’s mother, hanging on the wall. The photograph of Stella as the Onion Queen was featured in an article on Pine Island NY in the November 1941 edition of National Geographic magazine.
The Society was in the midst of organizing their agriculture exhibit and Executive Director Lisa-Ann Weisbrod reached out to Kathy, a volunteer in the Education Department, to see if Stella would be interested in telling her story. Hence the birth of the “My Farm, My Life, My Story” series. The first conversation in the series will be held on Sun., Jul. 8 at 2 p.m.
Stella Gutowski Weslowski was born at home in Pellets Island on August 8, 1923. She is now 94 years young. When asked how she became the 2nd Onion Queen in 1940, Stella said at that time there were five hamlets: Pellets Island, Durlandville, Florida, Big Island, and Pine Island. The girls who wanted to be chosen as the queen tried out and were asked a number of questions by judges. In order to qualify, the girls had to be a member of a farming family.
Stella won on Aug. 15, being only 17 years old. She was the second queen in the 1940 Onion Harvest Festival. After that, there was not another festival until 1950 because of World War II. Stella has always been proud to tell her story. The Onion Harvest Festivals were always a wonderful time to celebrate the hard work of the Polish farmers.
“My Farm, My Life, My Story” a series of conversations with local farmers and their families complementing the Historical Society’s “This Land is Farmland” exhibit on display at the AW Buckbee Center Mon. through Fri. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Sat., Aug. 4.
The series will be held at the A.W. Buckbee Center, located at 2 Colonial Ave. in Warwick NY. There is a suggested donation of $5 per person for each conversation. Warwick Historical Society members are free. Though reservations are not required, space is limited. To reserve a space call 986-3236, ext. 101.