The 41st annual National Polka Festival wrapped up last week under dark skies but bright spirits.
The event had some last minute venue changes as the weekend rain caused some outside events to be moved inside, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone as the weekend rolled along without any major hang-ups. Gina Rokas, tourism director with the Ennis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau said the weekend was very successful.
“The festival was great and people did not seem to mind the rain no matter how soggy things got. The activities brought a lot of people to town and everyone had a great time,” she said.
The festival kicked off Friday night with the King and Queen contest, with the title going to Lindsey Adamcik and Matthew Matus. The couple was very honored to have won the event on the first time they entered.
“We are so excited to have been chosen. We have been coming to this festival for many years and it represents our family heritage to be here, so we are especially proud to take on the responsibilities that come with the honor,” Matus said.
The parade, which is a crowd favorite was held the following day but for the first year was almost rained out.
“I have lived here for 28 years and I’ve never seen it rain this hard during the parade, but everyone will still come out even if it does,” said Sharon Fisher.
The damp street-side viewing did not keep people from cheering on their favorite entries as more than 90 floats made their way through the streets and sea of umbrellas to entertain those that ventured out. It wasn’t just the hometown crowd that braved the wet weather to participate in the event as many guests also came prepared for a soggy weekend.
“We never miss this festival, we have been coming for at least 10 years and this rain might keep the faint hearted away but we’re real Polka lovers,” said Shannon Taylor of Saginaw.
Taylor and her family braved the weather with umbrellas and hot chocolate, not to mention homemade kolaches.
“We don’t really need an excuse to eat all the wonderful food here but we wait all year long to come get some, so since we’re here, we plan to make the best of it,” she said.
The opening ceremonies were held inside at the Knights of Columbus Hall with Mayor Russell Thomas thanking everyone for coming to Ennis to help celebrate the Czech heritage.
“This is a great event that puts on display the heritage and traditions of so many of our citizens. We are proud of the efforts of the people who work hard to bring the festival to you and we glad you came,” he said.
The event lasted throughout Sunday evening and was thought to be as successful as previous years despite the weather.
Look for updated information on next year’s event on the National Polka Festival’s Web site, www.nationalpolkafestival.com.