Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 7, 1999

Two LP citizens bring polka festival to area

By Luis Puga

Both Audrey Litzau and Jake Bandemer agree that they love old time music.

So much so, that they have organized the 1999 Polka Festival at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson Thursday-Saturday, June 10-12.

This is the second year the two polka aficionados have put on the festival, the last one taking place in New Germany.

Bandemer said that last year even though he had seating for 350, the festival was immediately crowded.

So now he's looking to hold it at a bigger venue, noting the fairgrounds location could accomodate as many as 800 to 1,000 people if necessary.

For Bandemer, his experience in organizing comes from two New Year's Eve parties he held. If the experience led him to host a polka festival, there's little doubt he hosted a good New Year's party.

As for Litzau, she is no stranger to organizing such festivities. She helped Bandemer organize his New Year's Eve parties and is currently working on Lester Prairie's own festival, Longhorn Days.

Since that festival follows the Polka Festival, Litzau is pretty busy these days.

"It's a challenge to come up with this idea and make it work," she said.

Both her and Bandemer have put a lot of work into the festival. Advertising has been out for the festival for six months in various mediums, from flyers to radio. Bandemer built a stage and dance floor, noting that he's enlarged the dance floor to accommodate more people. Litzau has been working on food and beverages, as well as some of the work on graphics for advertising.

Bandemer said the line-up is a good one, and word is getting out about the quality of the festival. He said that he tries to make sure that a good band is playing throughout the event.

This year, the majority of the bands are from Minnesota, with one from Wisconsin.

Kicking off the festival on Thursday at 6 p.m. will be the Twin Lakes Trio. They will alternate every two hourswith the Top Notcheman until midnight.

On Friday, starting at 4 p.m., the audience will enjoy the Top Notchmen and Wee Willie until midnight.

Saturday's show begins at noon with four straight hours of Cletus Goblirsch. Then Silver Memories and Bob Brenny will be alternating every two hours till midnight.

Bandemer said the crowd is mostly older people, 55-plus years of age.

"There's some younger people starting to show up at these polka festivals, but the majority are retired or semi-retired," he said.

He adds that people come from all over Minnesota and other states for the festival. Last year, he said that he had some people from Canada.

Bandemer likes to dance and grew up in a German heritage. He also plays piano and accordion. Both he and Litzau have attended about 10 polka festivals.

So where can people get tickets for the event? The only place will be at the door with three days costing $20, Thursday only $5, Friday $7.50, and Saturday $10.

While refreshments will be available, Bandemer adds that the festival is also BYOB (bring your own bottle). Food will be catered by the Country Diner in Hutchinson. RV parking will be available, with electricity costing $5 per night.

For more information, call Litzau at 320-395-2467 or Bandemer at 320-395-2093.

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