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Home   /   Polka   /   Hall of Fame
Pecon and Tomsick Take Top Hall of Fame Honors

By Alice Kuhar

A crowd of over 1000 people applauded the three annual achievement awards that Joey Tomsick of Euclid, Ohio captured. His crowning win was for the Recording of the Year, the album “Smile”, which was the top vote-getter in a field of nine outstanding entries. 1250 members of the Polka Foundation voted him the best for the popular album plus Musician of the Year and Button Box Individual. A fourth honor came to his saxophone player, Phil Hrvatin, as a Sideman of the Year.

They were all presented at Awards Show XII at the Euclid Shore Cultural Centre by the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 27, 1999.

Jeff Pecon of Mentor, Ohio took the coveted Band of the Year crystal trophy and all of his musicians were there to accept: Paul Yanchar, Lou Trebar, Ralph Deligatti, and Johnny Pecon, Jr. The band will mark its 25th anniversary in the year 2000 and second accordionist, Lou Trebar, an 80th birthday when the American Slovenian Polka Foundation sponsors its spring fundraiser on Wednesday, May 3, at the St. Clair Slovenian National Home.

Other annual achievement awards went to SNPJ Farm in Kirtland for Cultural-Heritage; Mike Podboy of Podboy’s Lounge in Euclid for Support-Promotion; Mahoning Valley Button Box Club for Button Box Group Category (second year in a row); drummers John Gerl and Wayne Habat for Sidemen (in addition to Hrvatin); Dave Skrajner of the Don Wojtila Orchestra for Vocalist of the Year and the Sidemen for the Best New/Young Band award. A list of the ten distinguished people and groups were placed on the Trustees Honor Roll: Gene Casiola; Dan Coppens; Rudy Kershisnik; Alex Machaskee; William F. Miller; Hank Pawlak; SNPJ Youth Circle 2; Frances Sylvester; Florence Unetich and posthumously, John Zalar.

The Greatest All-Time Cleveland-Style Polka Hits enshrined were “Jack on St. Clair” and “Night in May Waltz”, and the highest honors of Lifetime Achievement were bestowed on Barberton’s Frankie Spetich and Pittsburgh’s Dick Tady. Appropriate live music by the all-star band was directed by Ralph Deligatti and arranged by Fred Ziwich. The show itself was managed by Brandon Bucar with overall coordination by Foundation President Fred Kuhar.

Shoppers at the Polka Hall of Fame retail store and museum saw an enhanced display of a “Polka Trinity” featuring three Cleveland greats -- Yankovic, Pecon and Vadnal, including authentic musical instruments. The new addition was the work of trustee Joe Valencic.

The suburban matinee event was capped by a Meet the Winners Dance and Reception at the Marriott Hotel at Key Center in downtown Cleveland, Ohio attended by hundred of well-wishers, including 8 busloads, all for the benefit of the Polka Foundation. The awards show will be available on a professionally produced TV video by the holidays and the entire event will be broadcast on cablevision. An added plus will be the radio broadcast on WELW (1330 AM) on Saturday, January 1 at 12 noon (Cleveland time) which the station now airs, now on the Internet worldwide (www.WELW.com, according to station manager and master of ceremonies Ray Somich.

The Saturday events compliment the long-established Thanksgiving Polka Party Festival, Thursday and Friday, downtown at the Marriott that is promoted by the host of the longest running daily polka radio program of Tony Petkovsek and the Cleveland Slovenian Radio Club. The weekend boasted of great crowds and outstanding Cleveland-style polka entertainment by 20 leading polka bands from near and far. Special annual guests always include Canada’s Polka King, Walter Ostanek and Nashville’s Cow Polka King, Joey Miskulin.


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