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A polka lover’s dream: Three-day festival coming up in Ottertail

FOCUS file photo About 200 polka fans gather each day of the three-day Polka Daze festival to dance, listen to music and visit with friends. This year will mark the 5th annual Polka Daze in Ottertail.

Polka Daze will soon be dancing its way into Ottertail, with festivities starting on Thursday, Sept. 5 and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 7. 

Fans of polka have come from miles around every year for the last four years to camp out around the ‘big yellow tent’ downtown. They come not only to enjoy three days full of polka music and dancing, but also to spend some fun time socializing with old and new friends.

The event usually attracts about 200 people per night, who gather at the City Park of Ottertail, next to the water tower, underneath a 110-foot yellow tent set up for Polka Daze. The tent covers a large dance floor and tables for dining.

Comfort food, such as beer, brats and potato salad, will be served at Polka Daze, and free camper space is provided to all who attend.

This year’s event will feature five different entertainers. Far from run-of-the-mill, they have all performed across Minnesota, and are always popular with polka fans. To keep their performances fresh, and to ensure a wide variety of music for the dancers, the entertainers frequently switch it up, playing brief sets before introducing a new musician to the stage.

On Thursday, Marie and The Boys will be playing old time variety songs from 7-11 p.m. Then on Friday, Odell Braaten will be playing off and on from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Also playing on Friday will be the Wee Willie Band, between 2:30 and 10 p.m.  On Saturday, Leon Olsen, as well as Matt and The Dakota Dutchmen, will perform off and on from 1-10 p.m.

Polka Daze is planned and sponsored by the Ottertail Lions Club, with proceeds going back to the club to be used toward local projects. 

Ottertail Lion Jerry Smith is responsible for much of the event’s coordination. When asked what he thought about Polka Daze, he stated, “You’re never too old to do old time!”

Admission is $5 the first day, and $14 on the second and third days. A pass for all three days is also available for $30.

Kiowa Wieser-Matthews, For the Perham Focus