Polkafest draws in dancers from far distances

Jodi Schellenberg
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Dancers came from far and wide for fun, fellowship and dancing.

The Prince Albert Polkafest was held at the Exhibition Grounds from Friday to Sunday, drawing in dancers not only from the area, but also as far as British Columbia and the United States.

There was a full house in attendance all three days of the Polkafest, organizer Lawrence Bodnar said.

“They are from all over. There are some from the States -- somewhere by the Saskatchewan border in the States,” he said. “Some in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, all parts of Saskatchewan and Prince Albert and area.

“We have a good representation from all over the place. It brings all people to our city. That is a good feeling too, that they have chosen (to) be here.”

The Polkafest is popular for a number of reasons, but the main one is the friendships and the dancing, he said.

“I believe a lot of people still like to dance and they like good music -- I really think people like to get together and dance,” Bodnar said. “I’m really glad that they have chosen Prince Albert as one of their stops. A lot of them follow the Polkafest Circuit.

There were a number of headliner bands, including the Sparkling Tones, the Hamps Band and the Phoenix Band.

“We try to provide good headliner bands and we support local bands,” Bodnar said. “There is a real nice variety of music. It brings fellowship and people together. I believe the Polkafest brings people together and that is a big part of it too.

“You always meet so many great people and you bond with them,” he added. “People get together and it is like a great big reunion.”

Lawrence and Iris Baker travel out to the Prince Albert Polkafest every year from Camrose, Alta.

“This is our fifth year,” Iris said. “After coming so many years, we have met so many people from all over and we meet them at other polkafests as well.

“It is just so nice to come back here -- it is like a whole family reunion.”

The two have formed some great friendships since they first came to the Polkafest.

“We are sort of very good friends now with Lawrence Bodnar and all of them,” Lawrence said. “It is like a family. Lawrence and I always keep in contact all the time. It is great.”

The couple has a great love of music, which is actually why they met and got married.

“We met at a polkafest and we got married and have been dancing ever since about eight or nine years ago,” Lawrence laughed. “We just love it. It is great. The people and hospitality, it is just overwhelming. We will continue coming here as long as they have it.”  

Not only do people enjoy the music and dancing, they also enjoy the other aspects of the Polkafest -- including the food.

“They ran out of perogies and cabbage rolls,” Bodnar said. “It is good but it is hard to know how many to prepare for and you want to prepare lots. It is all home cooked, homemade.”

The volunteers were invaluable, making all the food including about 40 pies.

“They are the backbone of the Polkafest. They run the show, as you see,” Bodnar said. “Everyone has their own jobs and they love it, they enjoy it. They want to be here.”

The Polkafest is one of the fundraisers for the Prince Albert Exhibition and Bodnar hopes it will continue for many years.

“I am so thankful our Polkafest is surviving and we want to keep it alive.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Phoenix Band

Geographic location: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, United States Alberta Manitoba Camrose

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