Rita Winkle and Big Daddy renew a long-term friendship during a recent polka dance in Kalida - Putnam Sentinel
Rita Winkle and Big Daddy renew a long-term friendship during a recent polka dance in Kalida. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)

KALIDA — Members of the Ohio Polka Association say they enjoy the friends, family, and fun they have while attending polka dance events.

On Saturday, December 7, over 100 members of the Ohio Polka Boosters held their Christmas meeting at the Kalida K of C. Those attending came from several counties in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

Most members, when asked, said they had been doing polka dancing for several years.

“It’s just hard to find a location for polka dancing now,” said Mark Hahn, Deshler. Hahn is the president of the Ohio Polka Boosters.

The Ohio Polka Boosters host seven events each year, all at the Kalida K of C.

“We’ve held them here for several years,” said Betty Knott, Columbus Grove “They are good about working with us and always have good food for the events.”

Dorothy German, Ottawa, said her husband and her started going to polka dances after taking polka lessons at the Ottawa American Legion.

“They were giving the lessons as part of a fundraiser for Sts. Peter and Paul School. She recalled going to numerous polka festivals throughout the summer. Her favorite was the three-day polka festival in Hamler.

Betty remembered her neighbors in Ottoville being part of a polka band. “We would go over and dance on their porch,”

Ann Burgei, Cloverdale, said those who go to the polka dances become part of your ‘family.” “We have regular related family members, and then we have the friends we make at the polka dances,” Ann said. “These friends become your family,”

Betty said when polka dances were prevalent several Putnam County villages hosted an event on the weekends. “There was always a place to go,” she said. Betty and her husband would often take their children along to the polka dances.

“We knew it was a safe place with good entertainment,” Betty said.

“Going to any polka dance is just plain fun,” said Jennifer Hahn.

Jamey Booth, Minster Michigan, came to the Christmas party dressed in a traditional Polish outfit. “The material is from Poland,” she said. She wore a vest, brightly colored skirt with an apron, a vest, and a wreath as headwear.

Rita Winkle, Leipsic, enjoyed the December 7 dance for several reasons. “I love polka dances, and I’ve known the lead singer, Big Daddy Lackowski, for several years,” Winkle said. “I always like to go to seem him perform when he is in the area.

“We see a declining number of dances and attendance,” Dorothy said. “I guess it’s not nearly as popular as it was in the 70’s and 80’s.

Both Dorothy and Betty encouraged others to come and enjoy an upcoming polka dance at the Kalida K of C. “It’s a good time, and they always have good food,” Dorothy said.

The next polka dance in Kalida is Saturday, April 29, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Live music will be provided by The Hungry Five. Cost, including the meal, is $12 for non-members.