© Herald photo by Kevin Hampson.
Hundreds of polka enthusiasts dance on Saturday at the 11th Annual Prince Albert Polka Fest. The Dennis Nykoliation Band, of Winnipeg, performs onstage.
Hundreds of couples danced in the hall at the Prince Albert Exhibition Saturday while a band played polka music and the smell of perogies filled the air.
The 11th Annual Prince Albert Polka Fest was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
About 500 people were expected to come Saturday and a thousand over the whole festival, P.A. Exhibition organizer Lawrence Bodnar said.
Polka enthusiasts from all over Saskatchewan, as well as Alberta, B.C. and Manitoba, came to the festival, many of them in RVs.
“It’s like a village,” Bodnar said of the RV-filled parking lot behind the dance hall.
“They follow the polka circuit. For people who like music and dancing, this is the place to be.”
Julie Albert Sawchuk, of P.A., came to the festival with two groups of people “from Lloydminster to Unity to Saskatoon,” she said.
The groups go all over Saskatchewan and even to Las Vegas to polka till they drop.
But it’s not just about the dancing, Sawchuk said.
“It’s the social interaction with people and having a lot of laughs,” she said with a laugh.
Sawchuk got into polka 12 years ago through friends who encouraged her to join the group.
Polka is big in Saskatchewan, but the festivals are dying down in some small communities, such as Meath Park, because of a lack of volunteers, Sawchuk said.
“We’re lucky to have volunteers,” he said. “They’re the backbone of our exhibition.”
The polka season is from April to November, with about 22 polka festivals in Saskatchewan alone, Bodnar said.
The P.A. Polka Festival has grown considerably since the first one, which saw about 200 people show up, Bodnar said.
“Saskatchewan people seem to have grabbed on to it and made it an event.”
Part of the attraction is that four different bands were there, and they would change up every hour, he added.
“Some have horns and others have accordions; they play different styles.”
Prince Albert’s Dan Schira Band played on Friday.
Proceeds from the event go towards renovations and upkeep of the grounds of the P.A Exhibition Centre.