It is not only Downton Abbey fans who are excited for a new season premiere. Fans of Pioneer Public Television's Funtime Polka will be tuning in on Saturdays in January at 5:00 p.m. to watch a new season of the locally produced music and dancing show that harkens back to the days when area ballrooms were full and oompah music was king. The new episodes feature performances by Julie Lee and her White Rose Combo from North Dakota, playing songs such as Cotton Fields, Que Sera Sera, Casey's Old Timer and the Goodtime Dutchmen from Nebraska performing Lilies in the Moonlight, the Bird Dance and more. The 30 minute broadcasts are repeated on Mondays at 2:00 p.m.and are available for online viewing at the station's web site: http://www.pioneer.org/funtime-polka.html
For 17 years Pioneer has produced and aired Funtime Polka which consistently ranks among the the top 10 most popular programs in viewer preference polls. The program has been recorded at Larry Olsen's Music Fest near Lake Benton, Minnesota since 2005. The series is produced by Tim Bakken, Production Director at Pioneer. Bakken, who is a musician himself, appreciates the musical talent and smooth dancers featured on the program. "There's nothing else like it on TV," said Bakken. "These are real people, making music and having fun -- it is part of who we are as region."
"For viewers around the region from Aberdeen to Atwater and from Detroit Lakes to Sioux Falls, Funtime Polka on Pioneer Public Television is a highlight to their week," stated Pioneer's president and general manager Les Heen. "We are fortunate to be able to provide this engaging cultural heritage broadcast experience to the region," Heen added.
Pioneer intends to increase its coverage of musical and cultural events in the coming years thanks to the acquisition of a new digital TV production trailer that will be operational in May 2014. "We are seeking partnerships with communities that have demonstrated the capacity to stage quality events with a proven audience," according to Heen. "Viewer support is a critical ingredient to whatever we do, so if we can find other audiences that are as passionate and loyal as our Funtime Polka viewers are, we want to be there to record and broadcast the program," Heen said.