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National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame

The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame Museum--located at 605 East 222nd Street, Euclid, Ohio, is filled with artifacts and memorabilia from polka stars of yesterday and today. Some of the highlights include "America's Polka King" Frank Yankovic's accordion and stage outfits, as well as memorabilia and awards from Tony Petkovsek's 50 years in polka radio and promotion. Within these walls you will find items dating back to the turn of the century, as well as information on the polka stars who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

So what is Cleveland-Style Polka? Polka originated in Bohemia, but many different nationalities have embraced the lively music and adapted it to their own customs. Cleveland-style polka has its roots in Slovenian culture, and as such is sometimes referred to as Slovenian-style polka. It took off in Cleveland thanks to the tens of thousands of Slovenian immigrants that flooded Cleveland in the late 19th and early 20th-centuries. The Cleveland-Style Polka is characterized by fluid moves and a slower pace than other ethnic polkas. It became most popular in the post-World War II era, with Frankie Yankovic leading the way as its most recognizable star. The style was perhaps most beloved by second and third generation Slovenian Americans looking for a reminder of their youth and heritage (the songs were based on Old World, Slovene-language folk music), while still wanting to dance and swing to a fresher form of music with English lyrics. The music appealed to all types of Americans, however, and became commercially successful, with Polka bands touring the nation and radio stations from coast to coast playing Cleveland-style polkas.

Within the walls of the Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame, one can trace the development of Cleveland-style polka beginning in 1900 and through each decade to the present. There is a special place dedicated to Lifetime Achievement Honorees, the Trustee's Honor Roll and the Greatest All-Time Hits. The museum has also established an archival library and video collection of polka history.

Images

Exterior, 2009 A view of National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame. The museum is located on the first floor of the old Euclid City Hall. The building was renovated in the early 21st century for two museums - the Polka Hall of Fame (first floor) and the Softball Hall of Fame (second floor). Image courtesy of Amanda Ahrens
Matt Hoyer Trio During the 1920s and early 1930s, Matt Hoyer and his trio were the first Slovenian music group that recorded in the United States. Hoyer's arrangement of traditional Slolvenian folk music was adapted to American tastes, including the adding of a banjo accompaniment, which became the mark of early Cleveland-style polkas. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Yankovic and Young Musicians, 1962 In 1962, Frankie Yankovic played the Cleveland television show "Polka Varieties" with a young trio. His support included two twelve year olds and an eleven year old. Yankovic, a Cleveland native and son of two Slovenian immigrants, was a Grammy award winning musician known as "America's Polka King." He was famous for his Slovene (or Cleveland) style of polka, recording over 200 songs and selling over 30 million records during a career that spanned nearly 60 years. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
"Polka Varieties" on WEWS This 1971 photograph shows Paul Wilcox introducing musicians Hank Haller and Wally Chips on the TV show "Polka Varieties." The show aired on Sundays on Cleveland's WEWS-TV (and eventually was syndicated on stations across the country) from 1956 to 1983, highlighting both local and national polka acts. Frankie Yankovic was the original bandleader and host of the show before Wilcox (a sports newscaster) took the helm. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Location

605 E 222nd St, Euclid, OH 44123

Metadata

“National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 19, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/287.