Thu 11/28-Sat 11/30
This will be the first year that Cleveland will celebrate its annual Thanksgiving Polka Weekend without its founder, polka broadcaster and promoter Tony Petkovsec, dubbed “America’s Polka Ambassdor.” He passed away on February at the age of 77, after a lifetime dedicated to promoting polka and Slovenian culture in general, through his radio shows, his polka tours and his special events. He co-hosted and introduced the first annual National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame Awards ceremony in 1988.
But the event he started in 1963 keeps rolling along, gathering up fans and musicians from across the country for a three-day party, which now takes place at the downtown Marriott. There’s nonstop music for dancing in the Grand Ballroom with major polka artists such as Canadian Polka King Walter Ostanek; in-demand accordion sideman Joey Miskulin who joined Frankie Yankovic’s band as a teenager; Nashville-based Clevelander LynnMarie Rink (pictured); Polka Band of the Year Klancnik and Friends; and many many more. In addition, there are ongoing jam sessions in various meeting rooms which often last until the wee hours. Food and drink are available including Slovenian sausage from the winner of September’s Slovenian Sausage Festival, Euclid’s Azman’s Quality Meats.
On Thursday music and dancing go from 6-11pm; admission is $15. Friday is the long day — wear comfortable shoes! — with live music from 2:30pm to midnight. Admission is $20, On Saturday things get rolling after the 4:30 pm Polka Mass Tickets are $15.
The 32nd Polka Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony takes place in the Grand Ballroom prior to the Polka Mass. Tickets are $25. World accordion champion Denis Novato, an Italy-based Slovenian, and squeezebox player Alex Meixner are the featured performers.
Tickets for the whole weekend are $65. Combo tickets for the Saturday awards show and dance are $35. Order them here.