Finishing touches are being seen to as preparations are underway for the 41st annual National Polka Festival, which will be held May 25-27.
The festival, which usually brings almost 50,000 visitors to the city, is expected to have a banner year with a larger than normal crowd expected. City Manager Steve Howerton said that because of the large crowds at the Bluebonnet festival held last month, the city expects to have some return visitors.
“With the Bluebonnet festival being so popular and so well attended, people will come back to Ennis based on their previous experience. Another reason for the larger crowds will be due to the increased advertising that the Ennis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau handled this year, Gina Rokas has done an outstanding job. We expect to see a 10 percent hike in attendance from last year,” Howerton said.
The lure of the one of a kind experience is what Rokas counts on as a selling point to attract tourists.
“It is our job at the ECVB to get the word out and promote the event so we draw lots of visitors to Ennis but with the nature of the festival, it is an easy sell. The festival is a lot of fun and unique so people like to get out and experience it for themselves,” said Rokas.
A crowd favorite will take place opening night of the festival with the annual King and Queen contest being held at the KJT Hall at 9 p.m. The winners will appear in traditional Czech costumes in the parade and will visit festival events throughout the weekend.
The festival, which will feature activities in the KC, KJT and Sokol Halls with music, dancing, food and a parade, will also include street vendors with arts and crafts.
The activities held at the halls and the downtown music and dancing are handled by the National Polka Festival committee members and is already set with last minute details being wrapped up. All three halls will have a variety of performers and entertainment and will also host a traditional dinner each day for those wanting an authentic Czech experience.
For the first year, the Rotary Club wil host a bed race following opening ceremonies of the festival and there will also be a horseshoe tournament held at the KJT Hall on Saturday.
For a complete schedule of events, visit the festival’s Website at www.nationalpolkafestival.com or visit the ECVB or Ennis Chamber of Commerce to pick up your official polka publication which includes a schedule of events, history behind the festival, information on the performers and much more.