The polka has a lot to answer for, namely the terrible damage polka-ing did to the reputation of the innocent accordion in this country. In the right hands — the late Clifton Chenier's, or Flaco Jimenez's for example — the accordion is a perfectly fine folk instrument that can boogie. But roll out the barrel, and the next thing you know a perfectly respectable accordion is grinding out the cheese while your aunt and uncle, all 400 combined beefy pounds of them, go barreling across the dance floor. This would be tragic if not for the fact that all those polka-dancing souls look so very, very happy. Why? That's a mystery best unraveled at Ennis' 48th Annual National Polka Festival, a celebration of Czech culture, food, music and dance happening over Memorial Day Weekend. There'll be a parade, a king and queen dance contest, arts and crafts and polka, polka, polka all the time (music from the beloved Brave Combo, of course, Love and Theft and tons of others). Plus, they have kolaches. The culture that gave us kolaches must know something about the finer things in life. The festival kicks off with a pre-fest party at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and the big show gets rolling at 7 p.m. Friday and all day over the weekend starting at 7 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday. There is more stuff to do than fits in print, so check out nationalpolkafestival.com for a complete list of events. Activities downtown are free, and admission to the three participating music halls ranges from $7 to $17.
Fri., May 23, 7 p.m.; Sat., May 24, 7 a.m.; Sun., May 25, 9 a.m., 2014