July 17, 2008

Polka Fest is more than music

The 501st made it into the papers once again:

Polka Fest is more than music
By Megan Hanson

SEAFORTH - Who knew that stormtroopers liked to Polka?

The 501st Legion of Stormtroopers (yes, like in Star Wars), will return to the Seaforth Polka Fest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"One of the men in the troop lives in Seaforth; the kids really enjoy seeing them," Maureen Bernardy, chairperson of the planning committee for Polka Fest said.

Maureen and her husband, Marv Bernardy, are both planning the 35th annual event.

They said the event typically draws 700 to 800 people, almost 10 times the number of the small, 80-person town of Seaforth.

"Some people who have lived here before have come back all the way from Colorado," Marv Bernardy said.

He said they see a lot of people from Iowa and the Dakotas.

The Bernardys said they also see a number of younger people attend the event, in addition to the polka lovers.

"Not a lot of them dance polka," Maureen Bernardy said, but they do come for the bean bag tournament, and the country and rock music.

"Sometimes the younger kids like to see how it's done," Marv Bernardy said.

"If they would come up to anyone and ask, they would dance with them," said Maureen Bernardy.

Maureen Bernardy also said they see a lot of polka dancers who want to learn the "Polka Hop," a variation on the classic dance.

There is much more available than just polka for people who want to attend.

"We are trying to program it this year toward a family celebration, so we have the bean bag tourney and the softball tourney," Marv Bernardy said.

"Don't forget about the tractor pull for the kids," added his wife.

Campers are also welcome to attend the event, but no hook-ups are allowed.

The event, which is put on by the Seaforth Booster Club, will raise money for replacing playground equipment in the park. If extra funds are available after that project is complete, the rest of the proceeds will go to the local firehouse.

Maureen Bernardy, who has been polka dancing for more than 30 years, says her favorite part is meeting people and seeing people who moved away from Seaforth come back.

"And, of course, the dancing," she said.

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