Concert to be held at Vergas Event Center
The Chmielewski Funtime Band will perform at the Vergas Event Center on Sunday, April 16, from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $10, or $5 for ages 16 and younger.
Complimentary popcorn will be provided by Ditterich Mercantile. A cash bar by Spanky’s Stone Hearth will be available.
The current band members are the fifth and sixth generations of the musical Chmielewski family.
The band became well known in the 1970’s because of the popular Chmielewski Funtime television show that was broadcast nationally for 35 years.
The event in Vergas is sponsored by the newly formed Vergas Arts Club with funding provided by the Vergas Community Club.
For over 100 years and through six generations, the Chmielewski family has been synonymous with polka music. The Chmielewski Family tradition began in the late 1800’s with Frank Chmielewski, playing the fiddle while traveling by horse and buggy. The tradition was later passed on to Frank’s son Tony and brothers Nick and John, who also played the fiddle in the local town halls.
In 1945, at the age of 18, Tony’s son Florian, began his musical career when he performed his first job for a local wedding dance with a repertoire of only four songs. Florian later organized the Chmielewski Brothers Orchestra with his four brothers before producing the Polish TV Party in 1955.
Born in Sturgeon Lake, Minn., with 14 siblings, Florian went from a dairy farmer to a County Commissioner, to a Minnesota Senator, never once, giving up his love for the accordion and polka music. Florian Jr, Jeff, Mark and Patty later joined the band and continued the family heritage into four generations.
In the 1970’s Florian began producing the popular Chmielewski Funtime Television Show, which was broadcast Nationwide for the next 35 years. While traveling throughout the world, the band produced over 40 albums/CD’s and Florian started the Chmielewski International Polkafest, which was held for 40 years annually at various venues and Funtime Tours, now called ChmieBell Tours and now managed by Florian’s daughter Patty.
In the 1980’s, the Chmielewski Band was nominated by the Minneapolis Aquatennial and performed in the Bahama Islands for a cultural exchange mission. After their return, the Chmielewski Band appeared at the Minnesota Music Academy collecting nine out of eleven Minnie Grammy Awards in the polka categories for two years in a row. They have also performed at both the Minnesota State Fair and America’s Largest Scandinavian Festival, the Hostefest in Minot for over 20 years.
In 1994, Florian was inducted in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in New Ulm, MN and in 1995, he was inducted in the Ironworld USA Hall of Fame in Chisholm, MN along with his daughter Patty. In 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Law and Music for his 26 years serving in the Minnesota State Senate and his outstanding music history.
Over the years, Florian has shared the stage with many Ambassadors of polka music including: Myron Floren and Frankie Yankovic. In 2015, Florian earned the prestigious Pioneer Award and was inducted in the International Polka Hall of Fame in Buffalo, New York.
Although the current band primarily consists of three generations with Florian, his daughter Patty and her son Nick, the Chmielewski Band spans through six generations of family musicians ranging from ages 3 to 95 who can be seen performing at special events. In addition to managing both the Chmielewski band and tour business, Patty and her husband Michael launched the weekly “Funtime Polka Party” heard on eight radio stations all across the U.S. that’s bound to keep polka music thriving through their generation and beyond.
Contact: Patty Chmielewski (612) 597-8116, firstname.lastname@example.org for booking or more information.