The Happy Players

THE HAPPY PLAYERS, (from left) Luke Eisenmenger, Turner Blick, Jameson Brettmann and Jackson Brettmann, is a student polka group that formed at Fremont Public Schools five years ago. They will be performing at the Colfax County Fair in Leigh on Saturday, July 20, at 6 p.m.

LEIGH — The Colfax County Fair here will have something for everyone this year — especially polka lovers.

The Happy Players, also known as “Der Glücklichen Spielers,” are set to share their talents at this year’s fair, which runs from Thursday, July 18, to Sunday, July 21. They will be taking the stage at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The group is one of numerous performers and entertainment lined up for the free event billed as the most family-friendly fair around, according to fair secretary Penny Janousek.

What’s unique about the Fremont-based Happy Players is that they were formed by a group of then-middle schoolers who got into polka music. The band’s founding member and accordionist, Jameson Brettmann, is now 19, said Libby Brettmann, his mother and the band’s manager.

Jameson Brettman started the band after getting an accordion for Christmas and taking it to band class, she said. Fremont Public Schools band director Steve Steager saw potential to develop an ensemble devoted to polka.

“Mr. Steager comes from a Czech family, his wife is Czech and he saw a chance to get youth playing and get them involved in Czech music,” Libby Brettmann said. “None of the boys are Czech.”

Once some of the other students heard Jameson Brettman on the accordion, their curiosity drew them in. Soon a trumpet and piano player, tuba player and drummer joined and they started practicing old polka tunes.

“It happened really fast,” she said. “They decided to work on “Beer Barrel Polka” … Mr. Steager had them play at Czech Heritage Days in Prague that fall, that was their first performance and they went from there.”

That was five years ago, and the same band members are still playing together. They perform at events and festivals across Nebraska and have even participated twice in the National Polka Festival in Ennis, Texas, Libby Brettmann said.

The fair also has plenty of other events to delight, Janousek said. New this year is a wine tasting from Nissen Wines in Hartington on Friday from 6-9 p.m. The event will feature a variety of original wines, including its strawberry fusion, Bow Valley blush and selections from their Outlaw series, said Nissen Wines co-owner Tim Nissen.

Another new event this year is the Unadilla-based NoWear Extreme BMX stunt show on Thursday at 6 and 7:30 p.m.

True to the band’s family-friendly reputation, many other family events are slated. On Saturday, events will include a free Nebraska Game and Parks outdoor families event trailer, Colors da Clown free face painting and a kiddie tractor pull. Sunday’s schedule includes a dance team and cheerleader contest, parade and grandstand show featuring Sean Emery, Funny Guy Who Juggles Stuff.

There are also great deals for families at the carnival, which is open from Thursday to Sunday, Janousek said.

“We have $5 wristbands for the kids from 5-10 p.m. each night — unlimited rides for the McWhorter Entertainment Carnival,” she said. “We’re the best family-friendly fair around.”

Other musical talents featured at this year’s fair will be Elvis tribute artist Joseph Hall on Friday at 9 p.m. and the Nebraska-based Dylan Bloom Band on Saturday at 9:30, which also will be a dance.

In addition, there will be rodeo and 4-H events throughout the fair, from an open 4-D barrel race and pole bending on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to a round robin 4-H and FFA contest on Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We have some of the best exhibits in the state as far as livestock and 4-H and other exhibits,” Janousek said. “... It’s entertainment for all ages.”

For more information on the Colfax County Fair, check out www.colfaxcountyfair.com or call Janousek at 402-892-3520.

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