International Polka Association

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The International Polka Association (IPA) is located in Chicago, Illinois and dedicated to the study and preservation of polka music and the cultural heritage of Polish Americans who have made this music tradition part of their heritage. The IPA hosts an annual festival and convention as well as its Annual Polka Music Awards banquet. During the banquet, important figures in polka music are inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

The polka is originally a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European countries, and is performed by folk artists in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Croatia and Finland, and to a lesser extent in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Russia, and Slovakia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the Nordic countries, Spain's Basque Country, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and the United States.



The concept of a national polka convention had been developed and pioneered in Chicago, and the first polka convention was held in 1963. This convention developed into the International Polka Convention which was presented each succeeding year in Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo, New York. In 1968, a steering committee began preparations for the formation of the International Polka Association. The association was officially chartered by the State of Illinois as a "not for profit" corporation and was registered with the County of Cook (Chicago) in August 1968 [1]

Detroit Largest city in Michigan

Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2017 estimated population of 673,104, making it the 23rd-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.

Buffalo, New York City in Western New York

Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. As of July 2016, the population was 256,902. The city is the county seat of Erie County and a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canada–United States border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region.

. As stated in its charter, the International Polka Association was organized as: "An educational and charitable organization for the preservation, promulgation and advancement of polka music and; to promote, maintain and advance public interest in polka entertainment; to advance the mutual interests and encourage greater cooperation among its members who are engaged in polka entertainment; and to encourage and pursue the study of polka music, dancing and traditional folklore."

Folklore Legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, etc.

Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called Folklore studies, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.

The IPA is structured to serve as an educational resource. The IPA is also responsible for the continued operation and growth of the Polka Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It is through this branch that the association has been able to continue its historical, educational and research goals on behalf of polka music.

Hall of Fame membership

InducteeYear Inducted
Adamczyk, Steve
Barthalt, Adam
Bass, Kenny
Belina, Billy
Biskup, Michael "Mitch"
Blazonczyk, Antonina
Blazonczyk, Eddie (Sr) 1970
Bomba, Johnny
Borek, William "Wesoly Bolek"
Bright, Roger
Brueggen, Gary2018 [2]
Budzilek, Ray
Bulinski, Fred
Check, John
Chesky, Larry 1985
Czerniak, Bill
Czerniak, Joe
Czupta, Bill
Dana, Walter
Darlak, Jerry
Data, Marisha
Demerski, John
Dorschner, Ray
Dragon, Chet
Duchow, Lawrence
Dusseault, Happy Louie
Dziagwa, Andy "Day"
Fedorchak, Joe
Fiedor, Joe
Floren, Myron
Forman, Eddie
Fritsche, Fezz
Fuzzy, Cousin
Goetsch, Jerry
Gomulka, Lenny
Gosz, Romy 1979
Goydish, Bernie
Grebnick, Al
Groller, Walt
Grybosh, Frankie "Gee"
Gulinski, Chet
Guzevich, Hank
Haas, Johnny
Haller, Hank
Henry, Ray
Herzog, Marv
Hoyer, Matt
Hicks, Charlie
Hyzny, Johnny
Hudy, Fred
Jagiello, Walter "Li'l Wally"
Jarusinski, Raymond "Ray Jay"
Jasiewicz, Henry
Jasinski, Stan
Johantgen, Vi
Karas, Johnny
Karas, Thomas
Kim, Alex
Korosa, Eddie
Kowalkowski, Chet
Kozicki, Leon
Kryger, Brunon
Kryger, Brunon (Bruce)
Kryger, Lucian
Kucera, Ernie
Lazarz, Joe
Lesser, Adolph
Libera, Jackie
Libera, Johnny
Liszka, Frank
Loeffelmacher, Harold
Lucki, Don
Lush, Marion
Lyskawa, Stanley
Madura, Mattie
Maduzia, Wally
Maksymowicz, Ted
Marggraff, Norman
Marcissuk, Joe
Matousek, Michael
Meisner, Verne
Menko, Johnny
Mikos, Bruno
Miskulin, Joey
Mrozinski, Tom
Nowakowski, Michael
Nowicki, Adam
Oskierko, Eddie
Ostanek, Walter
Paterek, "Joe Pat"
Peachy, Don 2011
Pecon, Johnny
Pietrzak, Wanda "Koziol"
Podgorski, Ignacy
Polisky, Dennis
Piatkowski, Al
Pillar, Dick
Pinter, Emily
Prohut, Lou
Przasnyski, Stanley
Przasnyski, John "Jas"
Rhamy, Gary
Robak, Jan
Robel, Jolly Jack
Rock, Joe
Rodgers, Dick
Rohwetter, Carl
Sajewski, Alvin C.
Saleski, Stan E.
Schafer, Chet
Seretny, Virginia
Seweryniak, Dave "Scrubby"
Siebert, Gary
Siwiec, Eddie
sewierski, Casey
Skinger, Eddie
Sladky, Matt
Solek, Walt
Soyka, Al
Stolzenberg, Ray
Stras, Keith
Struzik, Joe
Sturr, Jimmy
Szczypula, Rev. Walter
Timmer, "Jolly" Joe
Tokarz, Richie
Towalski, Li'l Richard
Trebar, Lou
Vadnal, Johnny
Walk, Larry
Wasielewski, Matt
Watters, Pat
Weber, Jimmy
Welk, Lawrence
Wilczynski, Henry "Will"
Wilfahrt, "Whoopie John"
Wisniewski, Gene
Witkowski, Bernie Wyte
Wojkiewicz, Joe
Wojnarowski, Frank
Wolan, Sylvester "Shep"
Yankovic, Frank
Zablocki, Chester "Chet"
Zapolska, Teresa
Zavaski, Eddie
Zielinski, Bruno "Jr."
Zima, Eddie

See also

The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum in Euclid, Ohio, United States. It traces the history of the Cleveland-style polka, from its Slovenian roots from the 19th century, through American factory and mining towns where it absorbed jazz and country expressions, to the post-war years when top ten polka hits got the nation on the dance floor.

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Eddie Blazonczyk, Sr. was a Grammy award-winning polka musician and founder of the band The Versatones. He was inducted into the International Polka Hall of Fame in 1970. He stopped performing in 2002. Blazonczyk died of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome on May 21, 2012.

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Walter Solek or Walt Solek was a Polish-American lyricist, musician, performer, and radio show host who introduced English-language lyrics into polka music in the United States. Solek was known as the "Clown Prince of Polka" and died on 1 April 2005 at the age of 94. Solek was honored by the International Polka Association, the Polka Hall of Fame in Chicago, he is a Meriden Hall of Fame member, and "the first sailor in 1940 who could sing Anchors Aweigh in Polish". He hosted the Polka Show on WMMW radio for 28 years starting in 1947, and had a 75-year music career.

Lenny Gomulka is an American musician, singer, bandleader, composer, and publisher. One of his bands Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push, specializes primarily in Polish-style and Chicago-style polkas. Gomulka has also collaborated numerous times with Jimmy Sturr and others.

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The National Polka Festival is an annual parade and festival held in Ennis, Texas celebrating the Czech heritage in the city. The 3-day festival is held every Memorial Day weekend. The 3 fraternal halls offer a lunch or dinner with Czech foods such as klobase (sausage), sauerkraut, and kolache, as well as live entertainment with traditional polka music and dancing.

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Larry Chesky Polka band leader

Larry Chesky, born Lawrence J. Ciszewski, was a Polka band leader and manager of the Polka record label Rex Records. Organizing and playing in his first Polka band at the age of 13, after graduating from Holyoke High School he attended the Hartt School of Music and spent much of his early career touring the Eastern Polka circuit from New York to Chicago. He was inducted into the International Polka Association Hall of Fame in 1985, having recorded over 100 record albums. He was a proponent of the "Big Band" or "Eastern" style of Polka, which features more band members, and a focus on horn and reed instruments, than the typical Polka band. Jimmy Sturr, the 18 time Grammy Award Winner for Best Polka Album, said of him: "He was one of my idols. I grew up on him...I modeled my band after his Eastern style." Lenny Gomulka, the twelve time Polka Grammy Nominee, said that Larry Chesky was a "pioneer who changed and enhanced the image of polka to the Big Band sound."


  1. Gary McKechnie (2009). USA 101: A Guide to America's Iconic Places, Events, and Festivals. National Geographic. p. 129. ISBN   978-1426204579.
  2. White, Greg (2018-08-10). "Local musician to be inducted in Polka Hall of Fame". WKBT. Retrieved 2019-03-04.