Polkafest a party for all ages

Jodi Schellenberg
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If you want to boogie the night away, the Prince Albert Polkafest is the place to be.

Prince Albert’s own Dan Schira Band opened last year’s Polkafest and will be playing Friday and Sunday at this year’s dance as well.

The 12th annual Prince Albert Polkafest will be hosted at the Exhibition Centre Aug. 22-24, boasting four bands and a lot of fun.

“We have a great lineup of entertainment coming in,” organizer Lawrence Bodnar said. “Our headliner band is the Sparkling Tones Band out of Edmonton. We have Prince Albert’s own Dan Schria Band performing … Then we have two more bands coming in on Saturday -- the Phoenix Band and the Hamps Band are coming in on Saturday.”

“We try to get bands that do a variety of music and a lot of people say they can’t polka all night,” Bodnar said. “It is not all polkas -- it is just like coming to a regular dance, but instead of having one band, we have four bands to chose from.”

Each band will perform for an hour, playing music for not only polka, but also waltz, foxtrot, country, Cajun and others.

“On Sunday, Rev. Rick Martin does an awesome job of doing gospel music for about half an hour and then we have our Dan Schria Band,” Bodnar said. “Then we have what we call a Polkafest Jam, where different people will play for 10 minutes.”

In addition to music and dancing, Polkafest is also a place of fellowship and food.

“We have an awesome pancake breakfast on Sunday -- last year we were 20 short of 400 people for our pancake breakfast and entertainment,” Bodnar said. “It was awesome.”

Although they do not have the menu picked out yet, Bodnar said the food the rest of the weekend is “good home-cooked food and it is all by our own committee people.”

He said there will most likely be perogies, salads and homemade soups.

It is also a great place to meet new people.

“I always believe you always meet another friend out here,” Bodnar said. “They are the happiest people and you can ask when they come here. It is nice to see everyone’s smiles and we try to make it a stress-free weekend. When they come here, we look after them.”

Polkafest doesn’t just draw from Prince Albert and area -- people travel from as far as British Columbia and the United States for the dancing.

For those who are travelling, they offer a full RV service, within walking distance to the building.

Mainly it is just fun, even for those who follow the Saskatchewan Polkafest circuit.

“We offer a friendly atmosphere -- it is a family atmosphere and we encourage people to dress up -- like ethnically -- if they want,” Bodnar said. “Last year there were a few people in their German and Ukrainian costumes.”

All of the money raised at Polkafest goes back into the exhibition.

“The money is raised here and the money stays in the centre,” Bodnar said. “It goes to help with building expenses or building repairs or grounds repairs, so other people can enjoy our facility.”

Tickets are available at the Prince Albert Exhibition office, P.A. Music Centre and Val’s Floral Boutique.

This year, gift certificates are also available, he said. If someone is looking for a gift idea, Polkafest is a great option.

“It is a memorable weekend and something you can talk about for days or months after,” he said. “Last year we had over 1,000 people over the course of three days so we are hoping that this year again will be in the course of three days we will have over 1,000 people.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Exhibition Centre, Phoenix Band

Geographic location: Edmonton, British Columbia, United States

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