Preparations are underway for the 41st annual National Polka Festival, which will be held May 25-27.

Festive red, white and blue welcome banners are popping up all over town and the city is gearing up for the biggest event hosted throughout the year. The festival honoring the Czech heritage and culture will bring between 25,000 - 50,000 visitors to the various activity locations around the city.

The lure of the one of a kind experience is what the people at the Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau counts on as a selling point to attract tourists according to tourism director, Gina Rokas.

“It is our job 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.

The ECVB has issued countless press releases to statewide agencies regarding the festival and has purchased air time to help promote the event to an even broader market.

The event, which will feature activities in all three halls with music, dancing, food and a parade, will also include street vendors with arts and crafts.

“So far we have about 160 vendors coming and 200 food booths spaces sold. The deadline to reserve a space is May 23, but to be sure there are spaces available, we are encouraging people to contact us as soon as possible,” said King.

The parade currently has about 65 registration forms turned in, with several entries listed on most.

“We might be looking at a parade with upwards of 80 entrants so far and the deadline isn’t until May 17 so we are expecting more,” said King.

The activities held at the halls and the downtown music and dancing is 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.

A crowd favorite will take place opening night of the festival with the annual King and Queen contest being held at the KJT Auditorium, with the dance beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, and the contest at 9 p.m.

The winners will appear in traditional Czech costumes in the parade and will visit festival events throughout the weekend.

For the first year, the Rotary Club will be hosting 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.