Posen Potato Festival honors Konwinski and Wozniak as grand marshals of parade

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor

Two pillars of the Posen community will be this year’s honored citizens during the 2023 Posen Potato Festival grand parade that starts Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The ladies who will lead this year’s parade are Joyce Konwinski and Ann Wozniak. Both women graciously accepted the invitation and will ride together in Sunday’s parade.

“It is a great honor to be chosen as a grand marshal with Ann, but also bittersweet because Tony isn’t here,” said Joyce. The couple started volunteering at the festival shortly after getting married in 1965. He sadly passed away in April 2015, four months from the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.

She has worked behind the scenes for 48 years.

“The first year on a float, and then a pancake dinner the next year,” said Joyce. “Also, over the years, I did the flea market, worked at the Knights of Columbus (K of C) hamburger booth and sold beer tickets.”

Together with Tony, the couple took admissions, bartended and worked at K of C wild game dinners. She also volunteered at St. Casimir Catholic School and served as a Girl Scout leader.

“Tony took care of the all of the electrical and speaker systems for the parades and derbies for 45 years,” Joyce continued. “It was his idea to have speakers throughout the village.

“I remember when the polka dance was in a tent and it was so packed you could hardly move. One year, all the lights went out…Tony was quickly summoned and shortly after the lights were back on to great applause from the partygoers.

The couple met in April 1961 at a Rogers City High School dance.

“A year later, after a dance, at the high school, he came up to the North Star restaurant (now Meds Café), where I worked and asked me if I wanted a ride home when I got off work at 1 a.m.,” said Joyce. “He knew on the third date that I was the one.”

Joyce and Tony had four children: Sheila (Geoff) Rettig, Michelle, Tony Jr. and Greg. Their two grandsons are Andrew and John Rettig.

“With humility, I’ve accepted the honor of being your marshal for the Posen Potato Festival,” said Ann. “It’s a good thing the kitchen stove is there (she pointed to the appliance in her home), because I sat down, I could not believe it. I was functioning but I was in shock.” 

Once Ann graduated Posen High School (PHS) in 1952 during the year of the first festival and was runner-up in the Miss Posen pageant. Her first place of employment was as a receptionist and switchboard operator at Alpena General Hospital, now known as MyMichigan Medical Center.

Ann was president of the local library friends’ group for a number of years. 

“On their summer school vacation, the youngsters that read the most books in a given time were awarded a prized theater ticket, yummy pizza, along with bumper car rides in Alpena,” said Ann. “Over the years, my kids coming home for the festival worked at our book sales.”

Ann had many sewing accomplishments over the years, including PHS’ red and silver flags for the flag corps when the school still had a band program; costumes for characters on floats; and alterations during the Miss Posen pageant.

Ann and Robert were married at St. Casimir Catholic Church in Posen and were together 52 years. He sadly has been gone for 16 years.

“We were high school sweethearts from ninth-grade up,” she said. 

She moved to Rogers City and went to work for a photographer that trained her to take candid wedding photos.

“We bought a cottage on Grand Lake,” said Ann. “We sold the cottage and did buy a split-level home on Grand Lake. we did sell again and bought the white home next to Family Dollar.

It’s where she has been for the last 57 years and where she has seen every parade from this location, but one. Her front lawn is probably one of the best viewing spots for the parade in the village.

“I love my family, home and the village I live in,” Ann concluded. 

The community will return the love during this weekend’s festival.