Sitting Down with Chmielewski Family as Polkafest Begins

Polkafest Celebrates 40 Years

HINCKLEY, Minn – The 40th Annual Chmielewski Polkafest started up Friday and the fun lasts through the weekend.

Florian Chmielewski has played the accordion for decades, 73 years in fact.

“I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to Germany, and France and Acapulco,” Florian said.

The International Polka Hall of Fame member is known around the world for his skills.

He started off his his career in 1945 with a gig at his neighbor’s wedding.

“I said ‘Oh my goodness, Adam, I only know four songs,’” Florian said.

From there, Florian started a band and later introduced the music to his children.

”I made my first recording when I was seven years old,” Patty Chmielewski, Florian’s daughter, told us.

That’s when things really took off.

“We were the warm up band for Johnny Cash and June Carter,” Patty said.

The Chmielewski Funtime Band continues to capture audiences.

“It is the happiest music around. That is what we always say,” Patty said.

For Patty, growing up with fame wasn’t always easy to do, “I wanted to know what normal was.”

Now, the family is spreading their passion for polka in another form.

“Patty said, ‘Dad, you gotta write a book about this exotic life of yours,” Florian told us, “It’s kind of a gift and now what I’m doing is I’m passing this on.”

Together, Patty Chmielewski and Brady Slater wrote an autobiography for Florian titled “0 to 90 Florian Chmielewski.”

For more information on the book, Polkafest and the Chmielewski family head to funtimeband.com.

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