Stage: Festival Patio Stage 1 (King St. & Memorial Square St.)
Date: Sunday August 18, 2019
Time: 1 p.m.
The story of “Canada’s Polka King” Walter Ostanek, begins in the small town of Duparquet, Quebec where he was born Ladislav John Ostanek on April 20, 1935 of Slovenian heritage (descent).
When he was four, Walter’s family moved to the St. Catharines ON area, and by the age of nine, Walter began playing the button diatonic accordion. At age 12, he received his first piano accordion, and only four years later, in 1951, he broadened his horizons and formed his own group, his first Country Western Polka Band.
Two years later, he had joined the Abbie Andres and the Canadian Ranch Boys and was an instrumental part of their radio show (three programs a week).
At age 22, Walter felt he was ready to proceed further on his own, and on Saturday, January 26, 1957, his new band played its first engagement at the German Village in Niagara Falls, ON. The day had finally come, after 13 years of study, hard work and determination, Walter’s dream had come trust the Walter Ostenak Band was now a reality.
The next milestone in Walter’s life bears the date February 22, 1957 when he and his bride, Irene exchanged their vows in marriage. With their two children, they now reside in St. Catharines ON.
In his leisure time, Walter favours a quiet evening at home, where he immerses himself in his favourite music including Polkas and Country, Some of his favourite artists ar America’s Polka King, Frankie Yankovic, and country artists Ray Price, George Strait, Randy Travis, George Jones, Alan Jackson and Clint Black to name a few.
Some other favourite pastimes are collecting Polka and Country LPs and CDs, collecting autographs, photography and video and DVD recordings.
To Walter, the title “Canada’s Polka King” is much more than just a name. It is, to Walter, a special honour that carries with it an obligation to a special dedication and a promise to his fans and followers that wherever and whenever the Walter Ostanek Band appears in public, the band will do their utmost to please the audience and keep them happy.
It is through this special kind of hard work and dedication through the 59 years that Walter has managed many memorable accomplishments.
- 35 years week radio show on CHOW1470 AM in Welland, ON
- Since his first LP, ”Gay Continental Dance Party” recorded in 1963, the Walter Ostanek Band has recorded 103 LPs
- He has recorded 20 singles/45 RPM releases
- 1974 gold Record Award from ARC Recording Company, Toronto, ON
- Honoured and receive keys to the city from
- Collingwood, ON
- Niagara Falls, ON
- Youngstown, OH
- Euclid, OH
- A wide variety of television appearances including:
- Juno Award Show (1994)
- Johnny Carson Show
- Phil Donahue Show
- Polka Variety Show
- Tommy Hunter Show
- Pig & Whistle Show
- Lawrence Welk Show
- Canada’s Walk of Fame TV Show (2001)
- Jay Leno, The Tonight Show
- Grand Ole Opry, Nashville TN
- Rick Mercer Show
- 42 Years of Oktoberfest for the Lions Club, Kitchener, ON
- Many TV telethons, local charities, Gyro-Lions, Lions Club, Rotary, March of Dime Clubs, Heart & Stroke
- Local and Network radio and television shows
- Has appeared about ships SS Norway, SS Vera Cruz, and SS Costa Riviera
- Five tours to Hawaii
- Tour of Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Holland
- Won silver medal for one-hour Christmas Special, in which over 200 other shows were entered
- Only Canadian inducted in the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH (November 26, 1988)
- Grand Parade Marshall, Grape & Wine Festival, St. Catharines, ON (2005 & 2009)
- Grand Parade Marshall Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest (1993 & 2009)
- Wine Festival Parade Marshall 2008
- Folk Arts Parade Marshall, St. Catharines, ON (1995)
- Won first prize for Best Oktoberfest Band at Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest (1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012)
- 21 nominations for the Polka Grammy (Naras) (1986, 1988, 1989, 1991-2008 inclusive)
- Grammy Award Winner, Best Polka Album, “35th Anniversary” (1992)
- Grammy Award Winner, Best Polka Album, “Accordionally Yours” (1993)
- Grammy Award Winner, Best Polka Album, “Music and Friends” (1994)
- Song of the Year, IPA Award, Chicago, IL (1990)
- Inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame (1991)
- Musician of the Year, Cleveland-style Polka Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH (1990)
- University of Hard Knocks Hall of Fame (1991)
- Three radio shows on CHOW 1470, Welland, ON
- Four years of television on Channel 11 CHCH-TV Hamilton with “Polka Party”
- One-hour TV Show special filmed in Germany and Austria (1987)
- One-hour TV special CBC “One More Time with Frank Yankovic”
- Weekly television show “Polka Rama” in Regina, SK (2005-2019)
- One-hour Christmas Special for television (1987)
- Appeared in Laughlin and Las Vegas, NV
- Has appeared in concert with such artists as Roy Clark, Oakridge Boys, Ronnie Milsap, Ray Price, George Jones, Mel Tillis, Brenda Lee, Razzy Bailey, Slim Whitman, John Conlee, Tom T. Hall, T.G. Sheppard, Tommy Hunter, Lawrence Welk, Myron Floren, Crystal Gale, Frank Yankovic, Dick Contino and John McDermott
- Man of the Year P.O.P.P. Youngstown, OH (1984)
- SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award (2007)
- Long Play LP’s “Polka Stadia, Volumes I and II” inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Hall of Fame (November 25, 1989)
- Album of the Year, Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame (1993, 1995, and 2004)
- Band of the Year, Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame (1993)
- World of Music Lifetime Achievement Award, Cleveland
- Received the Order of Canada on April 26, 2000
- Iron World Minnesota Hall of Fame (2000)
- Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award (2012)
- Pac Pace Music Award Winner (2011-2012)
- Montebello Park Pavillion, St. Catharines, ON named in Walter Ostanek’s honour
- Hosted a one-hour TV show “Musikanten Stadl” from Austria (Toronto, ON, Canada/1994)
- Niagara Lifetime Music Award 2009
- Special Guest, 30th Anniversary (Ansambel Lojsze Slak) Slovenia
- 31 consecutive years of performances (June to September) at Marineland, Niagara Falls, ON
- Doctor of Law Award, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON (1995)
Walter has devoted 62 years of dedication to his family band, and, in particular, for the promotion of Polka Music.
- At home, his mailbox is shaped like an accordion
- His band’s truck license plate is “OSTANEK” and the cars are “POLKA” “POLKA 1” ”POLKA 2” “WALTZ” “4 POLKA” and “1-WJO-1”
- Rotary Club of St. Catharines, ON
- Rotary Club of Kitchener, ON Paul Harris Award
- One Hour TV Special “Cult of Walt”
- Lions Quest Canada
- Canadian Entertainment Hall of Fame 2019
Walter works very hard at his craft and he expects, moreover, he demands that his fellow musicians do likewise…and when performing on stage, the result is a happy blend of enthusiasm and mutual respect. The obvious love of good music is combined with talent to create a winning combination that has earned Walter Ostanek the title “Canada’s Polka King” …and has earn the band a devoted audience.