Chmielewski Polkafest Celebrating 40 Years

Updated: April 13, 2018 02:37 AM

A fantastic polka tradition, unlike any other, is celebrating 40 years.  The Chmielewski Polkafest attracts thousands and is coming up in May.

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The Chmielewski's have seen the festival grow and change over the years. 

"We started out at Pine City Fairgrounds, there were thousands of people," Florian Chmielewski, who is 91-year-old and still plays the accordion, said.  "We only stayed there four years because we couldn't contain the crowd."

From there, Polkafest moved to the sports center in Bloomington.  Then it was in Chisholm for 25 years in Chisholm.  

For their 40th anniversary year, there will be a lot to see and do for everyone. 

"Ten bands, 30 hours of dancing, where can you get more polka music than that all in one place?" Florian's daughter, Patty Chmielewski, said.  "If you don't know how to polka, there's no excuse because there's dance lessons."

They said people come in from all over the country for Polkafest.  Whether they come from California, New York, or somewhere in between, the Chmieleski's said it's like a family reunion. 

"Polka people are happy people and it's a place to gather, it's wonderful, and you couldn't ask for more fun," Patty said. 

Florian has been playing for 73 years and was recently inducted into International Polka Association Hall of Fame.

The 40th Annual Chmielewski Polkafest is the weekend of May 18-20 at Grand Casino Hinckley. 

Tickets are $20 for Friday or Saturday, $17 on Sunday, $49 for a 3-day pass. 

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