Pennsylvania Polka Festival: What you need to know
Whether you prefer the Polish or Slovenian style of polka music, there will be plenty for you to enjoy at this year's Pennsylvania Polka Festival.
The fourth annual festival is set for May 19 and 20 in the Monroeville Convention Center.
“The interesting thing about this event is that we'll have a mix of both styles,” says promoter Kelly Simon, of Kelly Simon Event Management in Greensburg. “Some people like one or the other. Lay people might not hear the difference, but the people who follow polka know it.”
Featured bands will be familiar to area polka fans, Simon says, with Dick Tady Orchestra, Nu Tones and Don Wojtila Band scheduled for the first day and Karl Lukitsch and Autobahn and the Frank Stanger Orchestra on the second day.
New to the festival, and performing both days, will be Box On, a Michigan band featuring married couple Rick and Alicia Vinecki and a varying lineup of their eight children.
“We've been trying to get them for years, and I think people are really going to like them,” Simon says.
The band's unusual name comes from the Vineckis' days of towing a homemade wooden box behind their vehicle when traveling.
On the Box On website, Alicia Vinecki writes, “I ... would yell out, ‘put the box on.' Then everyone knew that we were ALL going. Our band is all about being together so we thought it only appropriate to use a term that means togetherness to our family.”
The half-hour breaks between musical sets will be filled with polka-themed trivia and bingo.
Home-cooked ethnic and American-style foods and a vendor marketplace will be available. For the 21-and-over set, there will be beer, wine and cocktails, including Polish and Croatian beers.
A polka mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. May 20.
The dance floor will be surrounded by club-style table seating.
While the festival tends to draw an older crowd, Simon says, “There's a great number of people of all ages out there who love it, and we love to keep the tradition of polka alive.
“The most astonishing part of it is the people out on the dance floor who are 70 or 80,” she says. “They don't stop and they don't even break a sweat, and this is some energetic, high-impact music.”
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, email@example.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.