Over the years, the IPA Polka Hall of Fame® and Music Awards processes have rightfully recognized deserving polka musicians who attained prominence in the polka industry for their musical achievements that helped promote polka music and broaden its audience. Because of their highly visible roles, bandleaders, or “front men and women,” usually received most of the recognition for their groups’ success that may have contributed to their winning individual awards or their eventual inductions into the Polka Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, exceptionally talented band mates who also contributed greatly to the success of their groups, often never received their due recognition.
To address this situation, the IPA Polka Hall of Fame and Music Awards Committee collaborated with the body of Trustees to establish a new annual award to recognize these deserving “side men or women” of notable polka bands. To honor the legacy of the long-time Chairman of the IPA Polka Hall of Fame, Leon Kozicki, the committee and Trustees also recommended the award be titled “The Leon Kozicki Trustees Award.” The IPA Board of Directors approved the establishment of the award effective in 2015.
Candidates for The Leon Kozicki Award must meet the following criteria: 1.) must not have been inducted into the IPA Polka Hall of Fame nor be listed on the current year’s ballot (note: receiving this award would not disqualify deserving candidates from subsequent Polka Hall of Fame consideration); 2.) Must have at least 15 years of dedicated, significant service to the same prominent musical group and/or leader; and 3.) May not be deceased. Each year during the Hall of Fame/Awards cycle, the IPA Polka Hall of Fame Committee develops a short list of potential award candidates. The list is shared with the Trustees who vote to determine their choice of the most deserving candidate. The winner is contacted by the PHOF Committee and invited to attend the annual IPA Polka Hall of Fame and Music Awards Banquet to receive the award. If necessary, the award is presented at another time and location to accommodate the needs and preferences of the recipient. A plaque similar to The Joe Jozwiak Award is presented to the winner with a replica submitted for display in the IPA Polka Hall of Fame Museum. The award winner or representative receives a complimentary ticket to the banquet if he or she is able to attend.
Leon Kozicki Award Winners
2021 – Don Hunjadi
2020 – Robert “Robbie” Piatkowski
2019 – Jim Sajkowicz
2018 – Rich Bernier
2017 – Joe Sokol
2016 – Eric Parks
2015 – Tom Kula
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