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Frazee's Oktoberfest

SUBMITTED PHOTO The Leon Olson Band will provide live music during the annual Oktoberfest celebration in Frazee this Sunday. There will be plenty of German food, music, dancing and fun in the Frazee Event Center from noon to 8 p.m. Submitted Photo1 / 2
The Wee Willie Band will also perform during Frazee's Oktober Fest celebration this weekend. Submitted Photo2 / 2

This Sunday, food, live music and dancing will highlight the annual Oktoberfest celebration in Frazee.

Two old-time bands, an abundance of food and eight hours of dancing are the main attractions for the 16th annual celebration. It runs from noon to 8 p.m. in the Frazee Event Center. The Frazee Area Community Club hosts the event.

Doors will open at 11 a.m. Visitors will be greeted by co-chairs Betty Boardman, Norb and Carol Litzau and Dennis and Mary Kurth, all of Frazee, in authentic German clothing.

Traditional German foods and an alternative turkey dinner are a highlight of the festival.

In addition to the delicious food, there will also be a cash bar available with ale and spirits to celebrate the German festival.

The two bands -- Leon Olsen Band and Wee Willie Band -- will switch every hour throughout the event, with the VFW Color Guard conducting a flag ceremony in a Salute to Veterans at 1:45 p.m. A short dance will be performed by Frazee's Outstanding Teen Becca Sorlein Riewer.

The Leon Olsen Band from New Ulm, Minn., area began in 1964. The band consists of Leon on the concertina, guitar and lead vocals, Loretta Gerasch on keyboards, harmony and vocals, Paul Gerasch on bass guitar, and Tom Guldon on the drums.

The four band members play a wide variety of waltzes, polkas and two-steps.

They have been named Minnesota Band of the Year for 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and on Oct. 14, Leon will be inducted into the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame in New Prague, Minn.

The Leon Olsen Band has played throughout Minnesota and many areas of the United States. Music has always been a big part of Leon's life.

At 11 years old, he started playing in his father's band. He recorded music for 36 years, has recorded 18 CDs, taught more than 100 students to play the concertina and 10 of those students have gone on to perform.

This year marks 50 years of the Wee Willie Band playing old-time music.

Bill "Wee Willie" Makovsky started playing a two-row button box accordion at age 5. He says he kept getting out of bed to try and play it when his parents were asleep. Wee Willie and his dad, Happy "Bill" Makovsky played at house parties for many years.

He would watch his dad play and Wee Willie started to remember the songs by heart.

At age 8, he remembers playing his first job for a wedding reception. At age 10, he started practicing on his dad's concertina when his dad was out working because his dad would not let anyone touch his concertina.

When Wee Willie was 13, a neighbor asked his dad to let little Willie play his concertina. Wee Willie says his dad couldn't believe what he was hearing. Shortly after that, Wee Willie got his own concertina and he says it has traveled with him wherever he goes.

In 1961, he started playing bars and dance halls in the area.

The Wee Willie Band has performed at numerous polka festivals throughout the Midwest. The band has also played in many other states and internationally including Austria and Germany. In 2002, they performed on an eight-day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico.

The band has donated their talents for numerous benefits, church services and nursing homes.

They recorded 20 cassettes, seven CDs and many videos performing at polka festivals. The Wee Willie Band was nominated for Band of the Year in 1996 and 2000. Wee Willie was inducted into the World Concertina Hall of Fame in 2005.

On Nov. 6, 2009, Wee Willie was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in New Ulm.

The band consists of Bill "Wee Willie" Makovsky, Jim Bartusek, Gus Makovsky (Bill's brother) and Ken Erickson.

Wee Willie's favorite saying is, "Smiles are free, Stay Young, Go Dance."

Admission is $10. Come celebrate with old-time music, food drinks and fun.

For more information, call the Frazee Area Community Club at 800-407-2488.