“The first year, it was a one-day event,” she said. “The parade started on Knox Street.”
Hundreds of polka fans of all ages gathered in the KJT Hall Friday evening. Many individuals donned traditional Czech folk clothing. The bright orange, red and yellow ceremonial dresses and suites were ravishing. On the central dance floor, dozens of children (many of whom were dressed in Czech garb) flitted about. Multi-instrumentalist Molly B took the stage that evening and led the dancers and her band while singing and intermittently performing on tenor sax and keyboard. After the group of polka dancers were whittled down, two crowd favorites (Louis Stewart Jr. and Elaine Rosquist) were crowned winners of the 2019 Polka King and Queen Dance Contest.
At the National Polka Festival, Saturday brings Polka Fest Run, kolache eating contest, parade, arts and crafts, Czech food and beer, street dancing and many live music performances. The Saturday festivities occur simultaneously in downtown Ennis and three large fraternal halls. The downtown events are free to attend, and any ticket purchased for one of the halls is good at the others throughout that day. Plus, complimentary shuttles service is available between the halls. Sunday features more fun festivities and live music throughout the day, with the Grammy Award-winning band Brave Combo closing out both Saturday and Sunday.
Visitors to Ennis’ National Polka Festival in 2020 will see the results of years of construction and planning along Main Street near the heart of the city. The revitalization efforts include upgraded infrastructure, new pavilions and public gathering spaces, expanded streets and sidewalks and a new welcome center. Ennis is a city that is dedicated to preserving its past while offering fun, family-friendly events for its citizens. I had to bow out after Friday’s event this year, but I plan to make the trip back in 2020 to see the city’s signature polka parade (and try my hand at the kolache eating contest).
This year, you can oompah at the National Polka Festival throughout Memorial Day weekend (May 24-26). While you’re there, don’t miss the free concert from Gary P. Nunn in Downtown Ennis on May 26, from 3:30 PM to 5 PM.