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Keeping the Polka Belt alive

If you go

What: Downtown Arts Market

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 19; free admission

Where: Hansen Arts Park, 100 2nd St. SW, Jamestown

Schedule: 5 p.m., Graffiti Art Project, Pierogi making; 5:30 p.m., spinning and blacksmithing demonstrations, knoephla soup contest, art activities with Keisha Sparks, Julie Lee and her White Rose Band; 7 p.m., quilting with St. John’s Lutheran Church; 7:30 p.m., Matt Hodek & the Dakota Dutchmen

Contact: Jamestown Art Center, 251-2496, jamestownarts.com

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Two bands providing a variety of polka styles said they are excited to perform the authentic musical heritage of North Dakota immigrants at the Arts Center’s Hansen Arts Park.

Julie Lee and her White Rose Band along with The Dakota Dutchmen will perform at Downtown Arts Market on Thursday, July 19. This week’s theme is “Celebrating Our European Roots.”

There is no better example of European settler roots in North Dakota than polka music, said Larry Kopp, executive director of the Arts Center.

“Polka music is something that transcends national boundaries as far as European immigrants go,” Kopp said.

North Dakota immigrants and particularly Germans from Russia along with other Scandinavian roots live on through a cultural legacy of food and music, he said. Along with the music the Arts Center gallery has “Dakotaland” landscapes photo series by Char-Marie Flood.

Julie Lee, founder of Julie and Her White Rose Band, is based in Fargo but she was raised on a farm near Spiritwood. Her father, Rudy Reinpold, had his own band called Brother Rudy and the Rhythm Kings and he met her mother, also a musician, at a dance.

“It will be fun going back to Jamestown,” Lee said. “I haven't seen the Arts Park and I think it will be a lot of fun.”

Lee, an accordion and saxophone player, has been performing full time with her husband, Hugo Ternes, an accordionist. They play the old polkas, waltzes and foxtrots her parents used to play, she said.

“It’s a lot of the music of the ’40s,” she said. “That era and that genre.”

Matt Hodek, of Lankin, N.D., is the leader of Matt Hodek & the Dakota Dutchmen. Since 2004 the band has added established musicians including Rodney Bosh, Mike Helt, John Hobbs, Laddie Pecka, Rose Pecka, Mike Simon, Charlie Sunde and Donnie Swartz.

“We're excited to come and play; it’s what we do,” Hodek said. “Our band still plays the traditional way and we use all the instruments and no fake sounds.”

The band plays polkas in the Czech style with the accordion, piano and lot of brass instruments including the tuba, he said. One highlight is Laddie Pecka’s “Two Trumpets Polka,” where he plays two trumpets at the same time, he said.

“We do take requests and there are always certain areas that like certain songs and we try to accommodate that,” Hodek said.

Over decades of performances it’s the people coming out with big smiles to dance and sing that keeps the band keeps doing it, he said.

“It's basically the people,” Hodek said. “When you share the music with everyone else you also start having fun and that makes it a festive time.”

The Jamestown crowds are great for Oktoberfest at the Stutsman County Fairgrounds, he said. The older people reminisce but the younger people are also coming out and having fun, he said.

“We’ve had great crowds and this has been a huge success,” Hodek said. “There is great enthusiasm and it’s a lot of fun.”