Hall of Fame – 1993
Cliff Hermel (1918-1999) of St. Peter, Minnesota owned and operated the Gibbon Ballroom in Gibbon, Minnesota from 1961 until 1999 (38 years). The Gibbon Ballroom was an entertainment complex consisting of three ballrooms (Ballroom, Boom Room, South 80) and a restaurant (Pumpernickel Room).
Cliff made the Gibbon Ballroom famous for its annual “Polka Days & Concertina Jamboree” held the last weekend in July. The festival held a daily parade of musicians where the “Schneider & Sauerkraut Polka Medley” was played in all four venues with Cliff leading the parade and beating out drum cadence between the two polkas and while marching.
The festival also featured an all-day concertina jamboree that allowed all concertina players an opportunity to perform in front of an audience with a backup band. Not only did the concertina player receive a free drink, but Cliff also gave each one six silver dollars!
Due to Cliff’s efforts to promote polka music, in 1975 the city of Gibbon had painted on the water tower “The Polka City”. The festival grew into a seven-day event with campers showing up a week in advance to get their parking spot. It drew crowds from across the United States and became known as “The Granddaddy of Them All”! His slogan was “Stay Young, Go Dancing”. And with that slogan, he brought happiness to thousands of polka music fans preserving the music for as long as he could.