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Holiday shoppers keep traditions alive with trip to Broadway market

Noelle Fabian had heard about the Broadway Market the butter lambs, horseradish and Polish sausage.

"I knew you could find everything there, especially ethnic foods," she said.

But the Seneca County resident had never experienced the Buffalo institution until Saturday afternoon. And when she arrived, she immediately donned a princess crown and was swept up by the festive atmosphere of Buffalo's Easter tradition.

"I love the energy and diverse mix of people," said Fabian, who was accompanied by Mike Martin, a Western New York native. "I'm really excited. We're going to eat Polish food, drink Polish beer, Polish vodka. We're just gonna be 'Poling' out."

Fabian and Martin bobbed to the beat of a polka band as they maneuvered through the market's aisles, which were crammed with shoppers.

Kristi Sedota, of Kenmore, purchased cheese pierogi, sausage and a butter lamb.

"We're making Easter dinner this year for our mom, and we wanted to tap into our Polish heritage," she said.

Members of the Yansick family have made the annual trek to the East Side landmark for 20 years.

"It brings everyone together, and I'm able to get my eggs," said Allyson Yansick, who adds to her collection of decorative eggs each visit to the market. Phoebe Amoaka, Yansick's friend and a native of Ghana, experienced the market for the first time and captured the sights with her camera.

Kenmore residents Michele and Todd Benzin stocked up on chocolate and cheese during their yearly visit, which -- for them and many others -- keeps alive a treasured tradition.

"I used to come as child with my grandma, and we'd buy horseradish, kielbasa," Todd Benzin recalled.

"I remember the chocolate-covered strawberries -- and the strange, bizarre meats, like the tongue of animals," Michele Benzin added.

"Now our annual visit is more about passing the tradition onto our son," Michele Benzin said.

On Saturday, the market was bustling, with shoppers waiting in lines for Easter favorites at stands such as Camellia Meats, Malczewski's and Famous Horseradish.

"This is my 13th year, and it's the best year I've had," said Brian Grim, who runs two candy stands. "It was the biggest crowd I've ever seen. We ran out of certain items, like chocolates and candy apples."

To meet the demand, Grim was busy making fudge until 3 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at the market at 4 a.m. Saturday to replenish his inventory.

Meanwhile, Margie Ruszkiewicz and members of her family made horseradish nonstop to meet the demands of a steady drove of customers crowding the Famous Horseradish stand. Ruszkiewicz said her business peaks at Easter, allowing it to survive the rest of the year. And this year's Easter sales didn't disappoint.

"We've sold 10,000 jars of horseradish," she said. "We were packed all of Friday and today [Saturday] looks to be that way, too."

Mayor Byron W. Brown was the among the shoppers, picking up shea butter and red wine.

"The atmosphere is fantastic," he said.

Music lovers and weary shoppers parked in front of a stage where the City Side Band played. Allyson Yansick and her father, Jim, considered dancing.

"You don't get too many chances to dance to polka music," Jim Yansick said.