Polka on the South Side
"Look, we're not St Rita's or St Veronica's. We don't even have rides."
"Yeah, we're just a little neighborhood festival. We need a hook."
"Well we always have polka bands."
"That's our hook. Let's not just be St. Helen's Festival. Let's be St. Helen's POLKA FEST."
Perfect. I love my little neighborhood festival precisely because it's sort of the anti-Summerfest. They don't do a lot -- there's only one inflatable ride, there's hokey games, there's the standard raffle/rummabe sale/bake sale. It's small, its in the church parking lot. The fish fry is good but forgettable.
But they do one thing well. The bring in the polkas. Not ironic, making fun of polkas. No, there are genuine polka bands there, which bring out people who actually know how to polka. And it's beautiful. Its happy, joyful music for people who love to dance, and dance well. It's that folky 6/8 time that's absolutely timeless, the generation-busting celebration of a wedding, a festival, a birth, a confirmation, or maybe just that somebody came into a large supply of beer. Whatever.
I popped by to pick up some fish fry, and was entertained by the Banjo Barons these guys who played banjo and washboard to John Philip Sousa classics. (They were, if you didn't click on the link, dressed in matching american flag motif shirts).
fell in love with this couple whom somebody forgot to tell that you don't move like that once you get past a certain age. Wow, they could dance, and they weren't working at it -- it was clearly fun for them.
This is what a true music festival is for me. People coming because they love love love the music, because it means something to them, because they appreciate a genre of music played well and passionately by people who share their love for it.
Oh, and the food too. If you never have any other fajitas this year, you absolutley must check out the fajitas on Saturday only at St. Helen's. They are sublime in their simplicity, but they are the best fajitas ever. EVER. EVAH! I'm kind of bummed that I'll be gearing up for the tri on the only day they're available.