The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum and the Slovenian Society Home teamed up and presented The 36th Super Button Box Bash on April 8. Hundreds gathered at the Slovenian Society Home in Euclid for the annual event that showcased music from performers all across the country. Polka songs resonated throughout the upper ballroom and lower hall.
The bash was a daylong celebration of culture and history. National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum President Joe Valencic said this years’ Super Button Box Bash was special. “What makes today different is that we are celebrating the 80th Anniversary Reunion of the Slovenian Junior Chorus, which for the last 55 years have been here at the Slovenian Society Home in Euclid,” he said. “This is a children’s chorus in which most of the children have a Slovenian background and they have been performing Slovenian music in costumes and doing folk dances since 1938 when it was founded in Cleveland. “
There was a grand reunion with past and present members performing and playing the accordions. “The button accordion is known better as a diatonic accordion and it is a special type of accordion used in European folk music especially Slovenian folk music,” Valencic said. “I am a former member of the chorus. I was a member for about 12 years as a child. I was there at the very first Super Button Box Bash and I’m still involved.”
The children’s chorus is sponsored by the Slovene National Benefit Society(SNPJ) and Valencic is also the president of the Cleveland Federation of SNPJ Lodges. “The group’s concerts of Slovenian songs, folk dances and accordion music instilled generations of children with a love of performance, communications and organizational skills and an appreciation for Slovenia and Slovenian culture, as well as American traditions,” he said.
Many of the guests and performers could relate to Valencic’s longtime participation and attendance. Ron Likovic who lives in Chester Township has also been involved since the bash’s inception. Likovic was named this year’s Button Box Performer of the Year. The 51-year-old said he has been performing in bands for many years. Now his two son’s perform with him. His son T.J., who is 14 years old, said he enjoys playing the button box. “It’s a wonderful thing to have my sons playing in my band,” he said. “It brings tears to my eyes. We just hope this Button Box Bash continues for many, many more years.”
Mentor resident John Muhvic performed with the Fairport Jammers. “I’ve been playing for about 15 years,” he said. “I do it because I love it. This event is great because you meet so many people, many who come from out of town, and I’ve developed friendships that I otherwise never would have.”