Euclid's Joe Strukel, Mark Habat and Jan Horvath Win at 30th Polka Music Awards
Accordionist Joe Strukel, a Euclid resident, was one of six polka performers to score their first wins at the 30th annual Polka Music Awards, presented by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum at the Cleveland Downtown Marriott Ballroom. Twenty-two awards were presented at a gala stage show on Saturday, November 25, 2017. The Awards Show was the high point of the 54th Thanksgiving Polka Party Weekend. The Tony Petkovsek Award was presented by the founder of the Thanksgiving Polka Weekend to Jan Horvath and Vice President Mark Habat, chairman of the three-day event.
Other first-timers for annual awards were Klancnik and Friends (WI) for Band of the Year; Wisconsin bandleader Mike Schneider for Song of the Year (“Happy Polka Day); side musicians Eric Stehle (MI) and Joe Wojtila (OH); and radio host Joe Godina (PA) for support and promotion. Klancnik accordionist Brian O’Boyle earned his third Musician of the Year award.
Other winners were from the Cleveland area: Ron Likovic for button accordionist; Patty C and the Guys for button accordion ensemble; Dave Skrajner for vocalist; Kirtland's SNPJ Recreation Grounds for Culture and Heritage; and the Fred Ziwich Orchestra for Album of the Year for the band’s “40th Anniversary Recording.”
Five entertainers were added to the Polka Hall of Fame Trustees Honor Roll: bandleaders Mikey Dee (PA), Bob Doszak (IL), Harry Faint (AZ) and Linda Hochevar (OH), and Ray Somich, president of Cleveland radio station WINT.
The show theme, “Take a Polka Road Trip,” featured performers from around the U. S. and Canada, including Barefoot Becky from Iowa, Minnesota’s Singing Slovenes and Canada’s Polka King Walter Ostanek. For the 30th anniversary awards show, seventeen lifetime achievers from the Polka Hall of Fame appeared, including 2017 inductees Stan Blout (CA), Kathy Hlad (OH) and Frank Stanger (OH).
The eight-piece Awards Show stage orchestra was led by Tom Mroczka with orchestrations by 23-year-old musician Aaron Dussing. The show was directed by Ray Somich and Denny Bucar and produced and written by Joe Valencic, President of the Polka Hall of Fame. Each guest received a 64-page souvenir program book.
The Thanksgiving Polka Weekend brought 22 polka bands and five busloads of fans from the U.S. and Canada to Cleveland, Ohio, for the three-day music festival. Nearly 700 room-nights were booked at the Marriott. Forty-eight musicians appeared on the main stage in the traditional jam session on Friday evening. The Polka Mass was celebrated by Fr. Frank Perkovich of Minnesota. Jam sessions extended into the night.
"If you love to dance, this is the place to be,” said Chantal Brutovsky of Binghamton, New York. “That’s why my husband and I come every year.”
For information and photos on the 2017 Thanksgiving Polka Party Weekend and Awards Show, check www.polkafame.comor the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame page on Facebook. DVD recordings of the 2017 Awards Show can be ordered from the Polka Hall of Fame at (216) 261-FAME. The museum is at 605 East 222nd Street in Euclid, Ohio, and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 to 4. ###
Joseph Valencic is President of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum in the historic, old Euclid City Hall on East 222nd Street.