ENNIS — The fifth annual Ennis Czech Music Festival kicked off with doors opening at Sokol Activity Center on Saturday, Feb. 12, with a large crowd enjoying food, dancing and polka music.

Participants drove from as far away as Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Arkansas and one couple, Louis and Pat Vrazel, who drove all the way from Danbury, south of Houston, were some of the first to try out the dance floor while local Ennis band, The Czech Harvesters, played.

“We just love polka music and we travel just about any distance where it’s being played,” Louis said. “We came up to Ennis during this past Memorial Day, but this is our first music festival to attend here. We’re having a ball.”

Also on hand for the event was Danny Zapletal, who hosts Danny Zapletal’s Czech Polka Hour at 1 p.m. Saturdays on WRJQ Goodtime Radio, an Internet station that streams polka music from Appleton, Wis. The Ennis Czech Music Festival was featured Saturday afternoon. Zapletal is also director of the National Polka Festival, which was founded by his father, Raymond Zapletal, and Joe Liska in 1967.

The elder Zapletal was also on hand for the Saturday event.

“I’ve been involved in polka music since 1948, when I started playing in the Frank Kubin Band,” he said.

Bands scheduled to play included the Czech Harvesters, which kicked off the music at 1:30 p.m. Other bands were Jodie Mikula Orchestra, Czech and then Some, Ennis Czech Boys and Jak Se Do.

Jeannette Patak, president and CEO of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce, was on hand for the festivities and was optimistic about the day’s events.

“This is our fifth year to have this and in years past the crowds have grown to around 1,200,” she said. “I think with the weather as beautiful as it is today, we’ll have at least that many.”

Trey Sylvester, who is a member of the Ennis Czech Boys, explained how the event is managed each year.

“Basically, all the members of the local bands are a part of the committee that divvies up the responsibilities,” Sylvester said. “David Slovak is the one that started this five years ago and that’s with all five of our local bands started up. It’s just a great event and we put this on for all the people and you can’t beat the price of $5 per person.”

Sylvester said the Ben E. Keith Corporation is a sponsor of the festival and Sokol provides the food and cash bar.

Also on hand for the Saturday festival were the National Polka Festival king and queen, John Marek of Ennis and Angela Adamcik of Dallas.

For further information about the event, visit the website at www.ennisczechmusicfestival.com, call 972-878-4748 or become a fan on Facebook. Listen to the Sunday morning Polka Show from 9-11 a.m. on KBEC 1390 or www.KBEC.com.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.