Florian Chmielewski Recognized for 70 Years of Polka

May 18, 2015 09:50 PM

Florian Chmielewski has been playing the accordion for 70 years. The Grand Casino in Hinckley will celebrate this accomplishment by hosting him at their 37th Annual International Polka Festival. The event that runs May 29-31 will be dedicated to Chmielewski.

Chmielewski started playing the accordion in 1948 after his brother passed it on to him. His first event was a wedding for his neighbor whom just returned from World War II. At the time, he had only known how to play four songs, so he played them over and over again at the event.

Soon after, Chmielewski joined his brothers and organized the Chmielewski Brothers Polka Band. Eventually, Chmielewski worked his way into television where his sons and daughter joined home on the Chmielewski Funtime television show. The show would become a mainstay on television in the 1970's where it would battle the NFL for the most watched show in the country.

Florian Chmielewski was also a Minnesota State Senator for 26 years representing the DFL party in parts of east-central and northeastern Minnesota. And, he attributes some of the lawmaking to his ability to playing music.

Already a member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, he will soon be inducted into the International Polka Association Hall of Fame in Buffalo, New York.

The Chmielewski family music tradition began with Florian's grandfather when he started playing the upbeat music back in late 1800's. And since then, five more generations, including Florian's great-grandchildren, have played with the family.


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