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Dance Time
by Jennifer Pijanowski
© 2017 Polish American Journal

Make Plans to Attend Summer Music Fest in Frankenmuth

Richie and Wally Dombrowski have proven that there is room for one more polka festival over the course of the summer as, once again, Ocean Beach Polka Days drew record crowds to the New London, Conn. venue. The revival of this iconic festival has proven that fans don’t want to miss out on an event celebrating the best bands in polka music. The fourth annual festival hosted 12 bands over the course of the four-day event.

For many who could not attend, the Polka Jammer Network had a live remote allowing everyone to feel part of the excitement. The Dynatones reunion band comprised of Mark Trzepacz, Larry Trojak, Rick “Rico” Piotrowski, Matt Rosinski, Dave “Nigel” Kurdziel, and Al and Robbie Piatkowski brought crowds to their feet especially during their tribute to Scrubby. I got a chance to listen live during Stephanie’s performance and the band sounded spectacular with cheers from the crowd loud in the background.

Music in the pavilion as well as the ballroom was bountiful thanks to the talents of Polka Country Musicians, The Boys, Lenny Gomulka, Eddie Foreman, Polish Connection, The Beat, The Knewz, Maestro’s Men, Nu Tones, and Matt’s All Star Jam Band.

There has been nothing other than stellar comments from attendees about the festival location, and the hospitality of the Dombrowskis and their staff. The dates for 2018 in New London, Conn. have already been announced. Mark your calendars for June 20-23, 2018 and visit oceanbeachparkpolkadays.com for upcoming info regarding bands, tickets, and hotel information.

POLKA FIREWORKS. For 43 years fans have been making their way through “those Pennsylvania hills” to attend the Polka Fireworks Festival at Seven Springs in Champion, Pa. The history of Seven Springs is a tribute to families striving to keep polka music alive and to give fans a weekend to celebrate this beloved music. Memories of Eddie B, Joe Fiedor and Zip Lubovinski continue to be a part of this annual event sustaining their legacy. Cherished memories come to mind reminiscing of Polka Fireworks at Seven Springs Resort and I know this holds true for anyone who has ever attended. From the moment you start the ride up to the beautiful facility and come upon the iconic water wheel, it is obvious this is a memorable location. From Big Dan’s Party, jello-shots, shaving cream, jam sessions, pool parties, and phenomenal music, Seven Springs is a destination for any polka lover.

This year brought record crowds as attendees witnessed the Versatones’ Reunion on Saturday night. Over 1,000 people attended the evening to relive one of the best bands to ever grace the polka stage. I think anyone who was there can agree that there were three happy men proudly smiling down from up above as Eddie Jr. took the stage and fans got a chance to sing along with their favorite Versatones song.

The weekend also featured Tony Blazonczyk’s New Phaze giving Eddie Sr. another reason to be gleaming from the heavens. Music filled the beautiful rustic hall with the talents of Box On, Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push, Nu-Tones, Buffalo Concertina All Stars, Eddie Forman Orchestra, Ampol Aires, and The Boys. It was wonderful to see Henny & the Versa Js carrying on the family tradition and performing at Springs. Dee Dee Ogrodny appeared with the band for the weekend giving fans another exciting surprise. Dee Dee was named USPA female vocalist of the year every year from 1991-2004 so it is safe to say she has been missed by her polka family. One of my favorite parts of this festival is the tranquil aura which this resort offers to transport you away from your cares.

I anticipate Polka Fireworks will continue to thrive and bring more delightful music for supporters to enjoy for years to come.

STEFCIA ON WBBZ. Western New York’s weekly TV show Polka Buzz is still creating quite a frenzy prompting hundreds of fans to attend monthly tapings. Stephanie recently played for WBBZ’s show and brought throngs of fans out to dance along to her Chicago style polkas. Couples crowded the dance floor, showing off their moves and seeking their time on camera. Stephanie embraced her fans as she enthusiastically played her hits on the concertina.

Polka Buzz took time to previously tape some history on Stephanie and how she became interested in polka music. She told a story of her mom Wanda taking her to Li’l Wally’s store in Chicago to pick out her first concertina. She spoke about wanting a concertina up in a far corner of the store — one that Lil’ Wally did not want to sell. It was the concertina that he had played on the Lawrence Welk show and obviously wanted to keep as a keepsake. Through much determination, Stephanie exhausted Wally and he eventually sold it to her and she pays tribute to him by still playing it to this day.

Episodes can be watched online via YouTube, searching WBBZV.

SUMMER MUSIC FEST. If you want to attend another summer polka fest, there are still several going on before the fall weather heads our way. Summer Music Fest in Frankenmuth, Mich. is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Two weekends of polka music bring some of the nation’s hottest bands for your listening enjoyment.

August 10-12 indulge in the sounds of Polka Family, Ampol-Aires, Box On, Stephanie, Polka Country Musicians, Lenny Gomulka, The Knewz, and Eddie Blazonczyk Jr.’s Reunion Band. The next weekend August 17-19, performing will be Steve Meisner, Squeezebox, and the Hubcaps.

Not only is it is a place to enjoy fabulous music, but Frankenmuth is a very desirable vacation destination. This beautiful German-themed town has long been known for its eclectic shops, chicken dinners, and world’s largest Christmas store. The town is constantly changing and has many options to entice any type of visitor. Riverboat cruises, a visit to one of the many fudge or taffy shops to watch these confections being made, beer tasting at Frankenmuth Brewery, or a unique visit to The Bavarian Inn to visit the Glockenspiel (a moving clock totally imported from Germany) will fill your time quickly. The town leaves you plenty to discover while you are not attending the polka event. Rooms are still available at the Bavarian Inn Lodge which is within walking distance of the festival. Visit www.frankenmuthfestivals.com for all the information you need.


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