National Polka Festival will be held in Ennis, Texas, Friday through Sunday, May 24-26, 2013, with the purpose of celebrating the Czech heritage of the local area. These festivities are held annually on Memorial Day Weekend, and feature an abundance of cultural activities that can be enjoyed by the entire family in a small city atmosphere.
National Polka Festival Opening Night Dance
National Polka Festival opens Friday at 7:00 pm with a special dance featuring polka music and the King and Queen Dance Contest. Attendees participating, and even those not participating in the dance contest, are encouraged to wear traditional Czech kroj (costumes) in order to really get into the spirit.
National Polka Festival Parade
Saturday morning at 10:00 am there will be a parade (see map at the bottom) with floats, bands, and colorful costumes to kick-off the downtown National Polka Festival festivities. The parade typically includes something for all ages including music from polka bands riding on decorated floats and/or the sounds of the award-winning Ennis High School Marching Band
National Polka Festival in Ennis allows you to experience traditions, religious customs, dancing, tastes, sights, sounds, and "a little bit of the Czech Lands" throughout historic downtown. There are also three, spacious, air-conditioned halls (KJT, KC and Sokol Halls) which will have polka dancing, Czech foods, and 14 live polka bands, including Grammy Award-winning Brave Combo.
Musical Performances at National Polka Festival 2013
Trying to describe Brave Combo's music requires a pretty extensive vocabulary – at least when it comes to musical styles. For the past three decades the Denton-based quintet has perfected a world music mix that includes salsa, meringue, rock, cumbia, conjunto, polka, zydeco, classical, cha cha, the blues and more. They are America's Premier Dance band and a rollicking, rocking, rhythmic global journey -- offering what one critic recently wrote, "Even if you come for the party, you'll leave with something of a musical education."
Brave Combo's catalog of recordings range from Japanese pop to Latin American dance tunes, to the orchestral classics to rock and roll at its finest. The band has recorded with the late Tiny Tim, and were the band Talking Head's David Byrne chose for his wedding reception. From festivals and fairs of all varieties across the globe, rock clubs big and small, colleges, roadhouses, dances, cultural centers, Brave Combo has charmed countless listeners and won avid devotees. The band has won two Grammy Awards and been nominated for their work seven times.
Brave Combo will be performing at the KC Hall at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and at the KJT Hall at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Country Artist, Kyle Park
The Austin-born Texas artist has been writing since the release of his last album, his second, the irreverent and powerful "Anywhere in Texas," which featured a dozen songs written and co-written by Park, including “Cold in Colorado,” with its killer chorus hook; “Don’t Look,” which climbed The Texas Music Chart; a co-write with Wade Bowen, “A Woman Like You”; the hard-driving “First Day of Summer”; and the sentimental final cut, “These Days.” Kyle Park will be performing at Sokol Hall. Doors open at 9:00pm on Saturday.
Opening Artist, Mat Slovacek
At age 16 Mat started auditioning for singing competition like Nashville Star, Can you Duet, and others. He made it to the second round of season 8 of American Idol and then was a stand-out on the premiere season of X Factor, making it to the top 32 guys out of over 100,000 people that auditioned and appeared and sang on the national TV show. All four judges including Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid loved his audition, which put him through to the Los Angeles portion of the competition. LA. Reid even said he was, "The best they had seen yet." Mat Slovacek will be opening for Kyle Park, who will be playing at Sokol Hall. Doors open at 9:00pm on Saturday.
Things to do at National Polka Festival 2013
Parade - At 10:00 on Saturday morning, floats, bands, and colorful costumes will kick-off the downtown festivities. The parade traditionally includes something for visitors of all ages. You can enjoy the music of polka bands riding on decorated floats or the sounds of the award-winning Ennis High School Marching Band. This parade twists through historic downtown Ennis and is always a sight to see. The 2013 Parade Theme is "Where Everyone Can Be Czech for Day"!
National Polka Festival Food - You can enjoy great fair foods like corn dogs, funnel cakes and fresh squeezed lemonade as well as your traditional Czech favorites like klobase sandwiches, klobase on a stick, and kolaches.
Kolache Eating Contest - The 4th Annual Kolache Eating Contest happens Saturday at 1:00 pm at the Downtown Stage. Prizes will be given to Men's, Women's, Youth Boy and Youth Girl Individual Champion. You can register at the Chamber of Commerce until Friday at noon and register at the Downtown Stage until Saturday at noon.
Downtown Street Dance - You can dance the streets of Downtown Ennis on Saturday from 12:30 pm - 4:00 pm with the Czechaholics, and Sunday with another polka band from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Admission is free so come and Czech it out.
Arts and Crafts / Food / Kids Activities - You can shop the streets of Downtown Ennis on Saturday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm Vendors will be set up selling unique works of art, fashion favorites and more. Kids will have a good time playing and participating in activities such as face painting, a rock climbing wall, and bounce houses. The cost of the festival varies by day and activities, however it's quite reasonable. There is also a Polka Run and Horseshoe Tournament.
Admission - Friday, May 24th it's $7, Saturday, MAY 25th it's $12 for the all day events. The Kyle Park concert is $15 in addition to regular admission.
You can hang out on Sunday, May 26th for just $10. All downtown activities are FREE.
History of the National Polka Festival
Founders Raymond Zapletal, Len Gehrig, and Joe Liska of Ennis had been to other cities and seen the large response to polka bands from the people of Czechoslovakian descent. They believed the people could be brought to their small town of Ennis for the same reasons. So in 1967, Zapletal, Gehrig, and Liska brought their idea to the Chamber of Commerce manager Jack McKay. If the idea were to succeed, it would require the joint effort of the Chamber and the citizens of Ennis. Jack McKay agreed the idea could greatly benefit Ennis and the Czechoslovakian community in the area. Within three years the festival was a raging success with as many as 30,000 people attending from all over the country to enjoy music and entertainment at the four halls. Today Ennis' National Polka Festival one of the largest of its kind in the United States and attracts as many as 50,000 people from all over.