JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – For polka lovers, this festival is an opportunity to immerse themselves in the music and food of Polish and Slovenian culture.
Visit Johnstown will present the 1st Summit Bank Johnstown PolkaFest from Friday to June 5 at Peoples Natural Gas Park, 90 Johns St., in downtown Johnstown.
Jayne Korenoski, director of advertising and sales at Visit Johnstown, said after last year’s successful event at the park that organizers are excited to return the festival to its original three-day format at the new location.
“We liked that we had a festival in St. Mary’s (Byzantine Catholic Church) and we were sad that it had to be moved from there, but we were told they didn’t think we could continue it,” he said. she said.
“Next year will be our 25th year and we didn’t want to miss it now. We are also excited that 1st Summit Bank has become our title sponsor, and with that I can get the quality of the bands I want to achieve to make PolkaFest one of the best polka festivals in the country. ”
Wooden floor for installation
Korenoski said that a temporary teak wooden floor will be installed to better adapt to the PolkaFest venue.
“This is a must for any polka dancer and I don’t think we would draw real polka dancers without wooden floors,” she said.
“The stage is also perfect because it’s a little higher and we can still get two bands together so there’s no break between the bands. Plus, there is a covered pavilion where people can sit in the shade. “
PolkaFest boasts some top Polish and Slovenian bands from all over the country.
“I’m very excited about this year’s line-up because I’ve never heard some of the bands we have,” Korenoski said.
“We have the basic products we have every year and some new accessories.”
The festival runs Friday from 5pm to 10pm with the Johnstown Button Box, Don Wojtila Band and The Boys Band.
Rosie and the Jammers, Don Wojtila Band, The Boys Band, Seven and John Stevens Polka Band will perform from 13.30 to 23.00 on June 4.
From 1pm to 5pm, on 5 June, there will be the Buffalo Concertina All Stars and the Polka Family Band.
Four-time Grammy nominee
Korenoski said the four-time Polmy Family Band Grammy nominee is a PolkaFest favorite and has been coming to the festival from the start.
“They’re getting better every year and they’re in high demand,” she said.
“At Polka Family Band, we like to have some young musicians in the band and they are very interactive. These young kids are jumping around and having a good time. “
The Boys Band will bring your polka style to contemporary polka music.
“They’re phenomenal and they get a big crowd everywhere they go,” Korenoski said.
“If you’re in the world of the regiment, you’ll recognize the names of these musicians. I think they will do a great job for us. “
The Don Wojtila Band has been recognized as one of Cleveland’s best polka and variety ensembles.
“They are a Slovenian band and they have been performing with us for probably 20 years,” Korenoski said.
“We missed them last year when they couldn’t come, so we’re grateful they came back for two days.”
He appears in TV shows
The John Stevens Polka Band, which has released 18 albums, has appeared on a number of television shows, including “Pennsylvania Polka”, “The Jolly Joe Timmer Show”, “Let’s Polka” and “The Bethlehem Musikfest”.
“We haven’t been able to have John for a long time, so we’re looking forward to his return,” Korenoski said.
Buffalo, New York’s main honky band, the Buffalo Concertina All Stars, is a mix of original and traditional regiments, hoops and waltzes.
“I haven’t heard them, but they told me they’re really good, so I’m excited to have them this year,” Korenoski said.
“They have a lot of concertine and play button-style music.”
The newly formed band Seven brings four groups together to create cheerful, lively polka music.
“We are very much looking forward to their performance,” Korenoski said.
In addition, two groups from Johnstown will entertain at PolkaFest.
Rosie and Jammers are favorites
The festival’s favorite Rosie and the Jammers performs music ranging from the era of big bands to timeless favorites such as country, soft rock and ballads.
The Johnstown Button Box was organized in 1981 by a group of area musicians who share a deep love for the buttonhole as an ethnic instrument.
“They’re the ones with boots on the floor who help us sell tickets all year long,” Korenoski said.
“They both have great music and we don’t want to forget our local bands.”
The Polka Mass will be celebrated at noon on June 5 at Very Rev. James F. Crookston and John Stevens Polka Band.
“If you haven’t been to an outdoor polka mass yet, you have to attend because it’s really moving and it’s great to go,” Korenoski said.
“Even if you’re not a Catholic, I think you’ll enjoy the music.”
Ethnic, festival food
PolkaFest also includes a variety of ethnic and festival-style food vendors serving pierogies, haluski, halupki, cevapi, kielbasa, Polish-style donuts, barbecue, Asian cuisine and sweet treats.
“At the polka festival, we will have the food we want,” said Nicole Waligora, coordinator of Visit Johnstown’s sports tourism program.
“Most vendors are regional, if not local, so it’s always nice to see people living nearby get involved.”
In addition, there will be sellers of ethnic goods and crafts.
“We’re going to have people who have some ethnic artwork, from kitchen towels to clothes to home decorations and candles,” Waligora said.
“There will be beautiful diversity.”
Proceeds from the sale of PolkaFest T-shirts and 50/50 tickets will be returned to the festival fund to cover costs.
In addition to attracting locals, the festival also attracts people from all over the country, as well as from Ohio, New York, Maryland and Michigan.
“Not only can people see this beautiful park, but we hope they will extend their stay a bit and visit our sights and all the wonderful things we have in the city,” Korenoski said.
She added that you don’t have to be a solid polka enthusiast to enjoy the festival.
“I encourage everyone to come down because this polka music is exceptional with horns, violins and fiddles,” Korenoski said.
“Every instrument is in these groups.
“You will hear music like you have never heard before. So much has changed and it’s much more lively and stunning to listen to. “
Festival volunteers are still needed, and those interested can call Stacey Wyandt at 814-536-7993 for more information.
Admission is $ 5 for Friday and June 4, and free on June 5. Children accompanied by an adult are free of charge. Free parking is available in the city center.
For more information, visit www.visit- johnstownpa.com/polkafest.