Olsen’s Music Fest on HDTV

June 8, 2012


Media Arts and Communication student Landon Brands of Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato is pictured shooting television footage on the dance floor of the Larry Olsen Music Fest in Lake Benton over the Memorial Day weekend. Pioneer Public TV will edit the high-definition footage into 30-minute segments for airing on “Funtime Polka” and hired the students to give them practical experience.

By Dan Kuss


The Larry and Brenda Olsen 18th Annual Music Fest was re­corded for the fourth time by Pioneer Public Television over Memorial Day Weekend to be broadcast on “Funtime Polka” programming.

“Funtime Polka” originally began when Pioneer recorded bands and dancers at the Gib­bon Ballroom from a July 1996 recording session and produced eight half-hour programs.

The first “Funtime Polka” epi­sodes aired later that year and became so popular it earned a regular spot on Saturday night at 5:30 p.m., eventually growing to Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. with half-hour segments also aired during the weekdays.

“We started recording Larry Olsen’s Music Fest atLakeBen­tonin 2005 when the Gibbon Ballroom Polka Fest ended and returned in 2007, 2009 and now 2012,” said Pioneer Production Director Tim Bakken ofApple­ton. “We’re still playing stuff from Gibbon and the earlier Lar­ry Olsen Music Fests, but always seek new footage since we keep repeating programs because people like them.”

Bakken said this is the first time “Funtime Polka” has been recorded in high definition (HDTV) with the crew using new camera and audio equipment in­cluding a full production truck to capture and mix the footage, which will be edited into half-hour segments and begin airing in October.

“It’s a complicated but re­warding business and all the hard work pays off in the end,” said Bakken. “We came in on Wednesday night to set up light­ing and had a crew of 10 guys working at all times during the festival to the final hour.”

“It’s music for all ages and it’s nice to see the younger people continuing to dance because we don’t want to lose the heritage.”

Students from Stone Path Stu­dios out of Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato Media Arts and Communication program made up part of the crew.

“It’s a real job with real clients and real experience plus we’re fully paid,” said Landon Brands, who will be a junior next year atBethany. “I ran the shoulder rig on the floor for eight hours today and totally broke the six hour record a guy set yesterday.”

“It was fun and certainly an ex­perience to be here. I’ve been all over Minnesota and every cor­ner of the state is different.”

The crew recorded bands, dancers and events in the main ballroom including the parade of musicians and programs honor­ing America’s veterans on Friday and Saturday.

The bands recorded were the Top Notchmen from Wisconsin, the Barry Boyce Band fromNe­braska, Julie Lee’s White Rose Duo fromNorth Dakota, the Good time Dutchmen from Wis­consin and the Larry Olsen Band from Minnesota.

“People tell me that the ball­rooms are dying but Music Fest keeps it alive,” said Larry Olsen. “We like having Pioneer Public TV out here because “Funtime Polka” keeps it alive all year long.”