About the IPA

About the IPA

I am excited to begin a column in the Texas Polka News about the IPA. I thought I would start with a little history.

The concept of a national polka convention had been developed and pioneered originally in Chicago. From the popular yearly moonlight dances starting in 1960, which attracted thousands of polka lovers from all sections of the United States and Canada — the first polka convention emerged in 1963. This developed into the International Polka Convention which was presented each succeeding year in Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo, New York.

In January, 1968 a steering committee comprised of Johnny Hyzny, Leon Kozicki, Joe and Jean Salomon, Eddie Blazonczyk and Don Jodlowski met to discuss plans for the next convention. After a series of meetings they 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 of 1968.

Since 1968 the International Polka Festival has been presented under the auspices of the International Polka Association. The delegates to the 1968 Convention approved the establishment of the Polka Music Hall of Fame and the presentation of annual Polka Music Awards.

As stated in its charter, the International Polka Association was organihalloffame4zed 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.”

The International Polka Association presents many special awards each year to encourage the promotion of polka music. Through the efforts of the IPA, the month of January has been proclaimed as National Polka Music Month and the annual festival has served as a show place for new, deserving polka talent.

Many functions under the auspices of the IPA are presented in various states, including Texas, a weekly radio program has been established and a bi-monthly news bulletin keeps the members informed of the business affairs of the Association, as well as polka-related events and news from across the country.

The International Polka Association 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 the polka music industry.

Big Squeeze! First Showcase in Ennis!

Texas Folklife is thrilled to announce that the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest is back in 2019. This will be the 13th year for the Big Squeeze program that supports up-and-coming Texas youth accordionists. The contest is one of the ways in which Texas Folklife carries out its mission to preserve and present Texas’s diverse cultural heritage.

This year, Texas Folklife will hit the road again and hold Big Squeeze showcases in communities throughout the state to search for young accordion talent. Four Final Grand Prize Winners will be selected from Texas traditional accordion music genres: polka, Cajun, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech, and Polish polka traditions. Cajun & Zydeco will include zydeco, Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include conjunto, norteño and Tejano.

The showcases will be free and open to the public, and will feature music by established accordion artists as well as showcase the young musicians.

The first Big Squeeze talent showcases will be held Sat., Feb. 9, from 4:30-5 pm, at the Ennis Czech Music Festival at Sokol Hall. The second showcase will be held Sat., Feb. 16, at the Cajun Youth Accordion Workshops & Concert at Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur. Workshops will be held from 1-4 pm, followed by the concert. In March, showcases will be held in Houston and Dallas. April showcases will be held in Roma, San Antonio, Los Fresnos, and Palmview.

The Conjunto Semifinals will be held Sat., Apr. 27 at the Museum of South Texas in Edinburg. Up to 12 finalists (three from each category) will be selected by a panel of judges, and will perform at the Big Squeeze Concert and Finals at the Bullock Museum on Sat., May 11. At that time, four Grand Prize Winners will be selected. The four Big Squeeze 2019 Grand Prize Winners will receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, performance opportunities with Texas Folklife, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities.

Additionally, the Grand Prize Winners will perform onstage with legendary Texas musicians at Texas Folklife’s Accordion Kings & Queens Concert, held at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on June 1.

Interested players are encouraged to reserve a showcase slot at a venue in their region by contacting Texas Folklife. Those who cannot attend a showcase may also mail or e-mail their entries to Texas Folklife.

The complete contest rules and entry forms are available at texasfolklife.org or by calling (512) 441-9255.

Texas Polka News

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