At the March 11 meeting of the American Slovenian Polka Foundation, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted for Joe Valencic to take over as President of the organization. Joe replaces Cecilia Dolgan who has led the organization since 2000. Cecilia will continue on the Board of Trustees.
Founding Chairman Tony Petkovsek is now Chairman Emeritus and will advise the organization when needed. Last year, Cecilia, Tony and long-time recording secretary Alice Kuhar announced their intentions to retire from their positions.
New to the board is bandleader and radio host Ray Zalokar who was elected by Polka Hall of Fame members in March. Joe Burya was appointed to take over Tony's remaining year on the board. The Foundation is parent organization of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum.
Tony Petkovsek and Joe Valencic
Valencic is a founding trustee of the Polka Hall of Fame and has served on the board of the American Slovenian Polka Foundation since its inception in 1987. He has been responsible for organizing Museum exhibitions, including shows on the Vadnal family musicians, radio host Tony Petkovsek, button box clubs, and Slovenian marching bands in America. He publicizes Hall of Fame events and, with sister Cecilia Dolgan, created the Slovenian Sausage Festival, now in its ninth year.
Joe is fluent in Slovenian and has obtained grants from Slovenia and developed partnerships with cultural institutions in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Austria. Joe is active in the Cleveland Slovenian community as President of the Cleveland Federation of Lodges of the Slovene National Benefit Society (SNPJ).
He is a marketing professional who also writes TV documentaries, such as Polka! The Movie, the story of Slovenian music in America.
Bandleader and accordionist Wayne Tomsic now serves as Vice President with Joe Burya as Treasurer. Recording Secretary is musician Duffy O'Neill with Rita Mihelich as Corresponding Secretary and Rosemary Koss as Membership Secretary.
Musicians and leaders of Slovenian and ethnic organizations founded the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum in 1987. Each year, the organization's 1,500 members vote for top musicians and best album. The museum presents the story of the city's home-grown sound from its roots in the Slovenian neighborhoods a century ago to nationwide popularity in the decades after World War II. Displays include audio exhibits, historic photographs and original instruments, including an accordion belonging to Frank Yankovic, America's Polka King. The museum archive preserves 3,000 vintage recordings, some dating back to the World War I era.
The Polka Hall of Fame is located at 605 East 222nd Street in Euclid, Ohio. Museum and gift shop hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:00, and Saturdays, 10:00 to 3:00. Admission is free. For more information, call (216) 261-FAME, toll-free (866) 66-POLKA, or check the website, www.polkafame.com.
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