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Amana Colonies Polka Festival?

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Dave the Gnome 08 Mar 04 - 11:29 AM
open mike 08 Mar 04 - 12:05 PM
open mike 08 Mar 04 - 09:02 PM
Dave the Gnome 11 Mar 04 - 12:45 PM
Mark Clark 11 Mar 04 - 03:05 PM
Mark Clark 11 Mar 04 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 11 Mar 04 - 03:46 PM
Dave the Gnome 11 Mar 04 - 04:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Mar 04 - 08:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Mar 04 - 08:24 PM
Mark Clark 12 Mar 04 - 12:58 AM
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Subject: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 11:29 AM

As part of the Gnome tour of the US in June my cousin is suggesting we visit the Amana Colonies in Iowa. I noticed there was a Polka festival there the first weekend in June. Not a dancer myself but it sounds like the music may be good and the event fun.

Anyone any experience of either? Views?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: open mike
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 12:05 PM

i am not sure, but you might have to drink enough beer to be able to listen to non-stop polkas for a whole weekend...beware! there may be lots of accordions there. (and tubas?) I am not sure but perhaps the
Amish donot allow beer dringking....they could be fundamentalilst Mennonites who still use horse and buggies but then maybe they are
more modern and use Amana microwave ovens too. They do make good corn cob jelly and quilts, though.you might check here for more info:
http://www.amanacolonies.com/
or here: http://www.amanacolonies.com/pdfs/24_FestivalEvents.pdf
http://www.jeonet.com/amanas/events/low_events.html


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: open mike
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 09:02 PM

yes i see by the web page that there is a beer tent at their festivals..
in case that makes a difference in your decision..


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 12:45 PM

And I believe that there are some good micro breweries in the colonies as well. The Amana are different in many ways to the Amish apparantly.

Sounds a good place to visit anyway.

Anyone know or know of 'Barefoot Becky' who seems to be the star of the festival?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 03:05 PM

As it happens, I live very close to the Amana Colonies. In fact, I'll be driving through there in a few minutes as I do each week for a bluegrass jam session in Marengo. I've not attended a Polka Festival at the Amanas but I can tell you a little about the area.

The Amana Colonies are a group of seven small villages founded by a group of German immigrants in the nineteenth century. It isn't a religious community a la Amish, Mennonite and their ilk. Rather, it was a group of communist (communal) collonies in which everything was owned by the group. People lived in the villages, ate in common dining rooms and shared in farming the fertile land that was also owned communally by the Amana Society. They didn't eschew modern developments and finally yielded to pressure to privatize land holdings only when the strong fear of communism swept the US.

The Amana Society still controls the character and development of the area and ensures the historic cultural feel of the colonies. Guided tours of the villages and historic buildings are available throught the summer. A great deal is made of the restaurants in the area which try to capture the feel of Amana communal dining by preparing traditional German fare served family style at large tables. Often the restaurants will employ an accordian player during the busy dining hours.

Northeast Iowa was settled largely by Germans, Czechs, and Nordic peoples and many cultural events in the area reflect those traditions. The US National Czech and Slovak Museum is located here in Cedar Rapids. I imagine there are lots of polka bands in the area. Antonin Dvorak spent a summer with friends in Spillville northeast of here where I think he composed his Humoresque and was inspired to compose his New World Symphony.

The area designated for the Polka Festival is a relatively new park/theater/convention center originally built to host the Farm Progress Show (a gigantic agricultural products show held each September at varying locations). Amana also hosts other music festivals including a bluegrass festival. They also have a big hot air balloon event though I can't remember when it's held.

The local beer will be a severe disappointment to someone used to actual beer—for instance, someone from the UK. The Millstream Brewing Co. is located in Main Amana and produces beers that are a cut above US mass-produced products but wouldn't win any awards at a real beer expo. The restaurants will serve imported beers such as Beck's and Dortmunder (DAB) and may even have Bass available. I don't know what will be available on the festival grounds. Often promoters just contract with a large distributer and you wind up trying to choke down Miller Lite. There was a great great microbrewry near here producing a fine pale ale but the weakened US economy finally spelled its doom. It's possible the promoters will bring in products from other regional microbrewrys but don't count on it.

If you decide to come, please send me an email or PM so we can make arrangements to get together. I'd enjoy that.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 03:19 PM

I forgot to mention that I have no clue who Barefoot Becky might be. She evidently lives here in Cedar Rapids but I'm guessing we don't move in the same circles.

I also forgot to mention that there is a jam session every Tuesday night in Iowa City (near both Cedar Rapids and the Amanas) and several of the participants specialize in Celtic music forms and instruments. I'm certain they'd be delighted to have another concertina in the circle. (And the restaurant where it's held does sell good beer.)

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 03:46 PM

Mark

I will be passing through that area this weekend on good old I-80. Been through there many times. I have a son who goes to college in Pella. I've often wondered what the Amana colonies are like. Thanks for the insight.


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 04:06 PM

Yep - thanks guys. All good info. I think a visit to the colonies will definitely be on. We are in the US from May 28 to June 14 or so. I will keep you posted as to out whereabouts.

Cheers

:D


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 08:06 PM

Passing through Iowa on trips while living in Illinois, we always made a point of stopping for a family style meal at one of the restaurants. My favorite was run by a former major league baseball player; that was many years ago, so I know nothing about those that are there now.
We inherited a fine set of solid cherry bedroom furniture made in the Colonies some 90 or so years ago. I don't know if cabinet work is still done there. I saw a newspaper item some time back saying that they were no longer connected with the factory making Amana appliances.

Wonderful people. If I had the chance, I would go to the festival.


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 08:24 PM

For the latest information on the doings at the Colonies, go to their website: Amana Colonies

The Beckster Fest (polkas, etc.) is June 4-6 at the outdoor convention center. On the list of events, click on that name and see a picture of Becky Livermore.
There will be a Cajun Fest on Memorial day weekend, May 29-31.


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Subject: RE: Amana Colonies Polka Festival?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 12:58 AM

The restaurant Q referred to is Bill Zuber's Restaurant in the village of Homestead. Bill Zuber pitched for the Indians (1936-1940), the Senators (1941-1942), the Yankees (1943-1946) and the Red Sox (1946-1947).

The Amana restaurant I prefer is The Marketplace in South Amana. Their fare is well considered and well prepared. They don't serve German country fare, they don't serve family style, and they often hire wonderful acoustic musicians to perform in the lounge on Friday and Saturday nights.

Any Mudcatters passing near Cedar Rapids with some time to spend should definately let me know when you'll be coming. Of course you'll be obliged to consume libations, play music, sing songs, eat food and other equally burdensome chores.

      - Mark


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