John Demerski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2007

Portfolio Categories: 2007 and D.

John Demerski

 

John Demerski is a life-long resident of Forestville, Connecticut. He attended Butler University, the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University and has a degree in Industrial Management.

 

John served in the U.S. Army Infantry and in the Connecticut Army National Guard. He was believed to be the youngest Infantryman to ever attain the rank of Master Sergeant at the time of his honorable discharge.

 

John entered the field of polka music in August of 1965 and for the 42 years before his induction into the Polka Hall of fame made many contributions to the industry. His band, the Villagers Orchestra, established an outstanding record of personal engagements in the United States, as well as in Canada. They entertained at all of the major festivals, many resorts in the Catskills, as well as in the local halls and ballrooms in the Connecticut and Massachusetts area.

 

The Villagers recorded six polka albums under the ROLA Recording and Publishing Company, which is owned by John. Many original arrangements done by John include “Rola Polka,” “Pretty Things Oberek,” “Villagers Polka” and “Palooka.” One of the most popular orchestral arrangements by John was the “Strolling Girl Waltz,” recorded by the Villagers Orchestra on their very first album.

 

John was instrumental in the founding of the Polka Digest Magazine, serving as the manager and editor-in-chief. This publication enjoyed wide circulation in the polka world and was cited for excellence by Billboard Magazine.

 

Not only does he produce and host five hours of weekly polka programming over radio station WNTY in Southington, Connecticut, but he can also be heard on the Internet radio outlet http://www.thejammer.org .

 

Another one of John’s ventures was organizing and managing the Villagers Travel Club. This was a way to transport fans to major polka events and weekends through the United States and Canada.

 

Yet another area John became involved with was a mail order outlet. He founded the Polka Peddlar Enterprises, which began with mail orders, but quickly expanded into a large store in his hometown of Forestville, Connecticut. Polka Hits Distributors was formed as a division of Polka Peddlar Enterprises.

 

John also was selected as a judge for four consecutive years at the annual Harvest Moon Ball Dance Championships.

 

In collaboration with Frank Knight of station WHYN-TV in Holyoke, Massachusetts, John and Frank produced a Top Polka Band Awards Show airing for two straight years. John also organized and ran numerous polka dances around the Connecticut area.

 

John has served as past member of the Board of Directors of the International Polka Association, Assistant to the President of the United States Polka Association, and as Chairman of the Connecticut Regional Committee for three terms.