Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 6, 2005

8th Polka Festival ready for June 9-11

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Organizers are gearing up for the eighth annual McLeod County Polka Festival Thursday through Saturday, June 9 through 11.

Jake Bandemer and Audrey Litzau of Lester Prairie are coordinating the event, and are looking forward to a celebration of music.

The first Polkafest took place as a New Year’s Eve dance at Plato in 1997.

“We had a great time, and people said we should do this more often,” Bandemer said. The next year, they organized a festival near New Germany at Fred Radde’s building near the Ranch House.

“I was a little nervous, not knowing what to expect,” Bandemer said. “Friday was the second night of the festival, and we sold more tickets at the door than what we had seating for in the building.”

Obviously onto something good, organizers decided to move the festival, once again, to a larger area – the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

With a larger facility, a larger dance floor was also in order. Most of the people who attend the event love to dance, he said.

“Over the years, I try to hire different bands that would be new to the area and play different styles of music,” Bandemer said.

For this year’s festival, Brian and the Mississippi Valley Dutchmen and the Top Notchmen, both Wisconsin bands, will be playing Thursday night. The Top Notchmen and Musical Brass keep the entertainment going Friday night.

“Starting at noon Saturday is a jam session being led by Fritz Lukes of Lester Prairie,” Bandemer said, and encouraged people to bring instruments and “join the fun.”

Following the jam session, Musical Brass, Leon Olson, The Top Notchmen, and the Country Polkateers will be playing throughout the day and into the evening.

Food and beverages will be offered by the Hutchinson Legion post, and camping on-site is also available for all three days.

For tickets or camping information, contact Bandemer or Litzau at (320) 395-2093.

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