For 35 years, Durant, Iowa, played host to polka bands and fans from throughout the Midwest during a two-day festival at which wooden dance floors were put down on the city streets.
The festival ended in 2007, but its spirit is being revived this weekend in Walcott.
“Memories of the Durant Polka Fest: One More Time” will take place 7-10:30 p.m. today and 1-10 p.m. Saturday at The Coliseum, 116 E. Bryant St.
“It’s something I wanted to do,” said Ron Alpen, a retired Durant car dealer. “I started the original Durant Polka Fest back in ’73 and I wanted something (now) where I could get the Polka Chips, who were in high school when they started with it. One of them is my son. I talked for a year-and-a-half, two years into getting them out of retirement to play ‘One More Time.’ ”
Among the other performers this weekend are Paulsen’s Dutchmen, led by Ken Paulsen, who played at the first Durant Polka Fest while he was Scott County sheriff.
The Rhythm Playboys will perform tonight. Paulsen’s Dutchmen, the Jim Busta Band and the Polka Chips are on tap Saturday.
“It’s just friendship and fun. Polka music is such a happy music and you can just have fun,” Alpen said.
The festival celebration was moved to Walcott for convenience and accommodations.
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“It’s a lot less work, and we’re getting older. There’s a lot of volunteers that are necessary. This way it’s less work and inside, (with) air conditioning, and you don’t have to fight the weather,” he said.
At its peak, the event drew as many as 28,000 people to the streets of Durant.
“We had huge crowds for the Polka Fest. I’m not looking for anything like that, I’m just looking for some of the people,” Alpen said. “Everybody’s getting older and we’re thinking, ‘One More Time.’ ”
But Alpen admits he may not stop at one reunion.
“I’ve had a lot of response,” he said. “I may do one more.”