Stevens Point and Portage County have lost a promoter of polka music.
Norm Dombrowski, the leader of Norm Dombrowski and the Happy Notes band, died Thursday, March 7. He was 74.
A man with an ever-present smile, Dombrowski was a familiar face in polka circles throughout central Wisconsin, but especially in Portage County. He played at every Portage County Cultural Festival, St. Peter’s Church Picnic and Dozynki Harvest Fest in downtown Stevens Point.
He also played at Riverfront Rendezvous in Stevens Point and at church picnics, dances and weddings throughout Portage and neighboring counties. His performances weren’t only in Wisconsin, they were in Michigan and Minnesota, even one in South Bend, Ind.
In 1998 the Happy Notes played 16 days in Washington, D.C., for the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. That same year the band played for the 150th Anniversary of the state of Wisconsin in Madison.
He also frequently played at Polish Fest on the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee, the largest Polish festival in the nation.
One thing about the band was Dombrowski’s friendliness. He would use the microphone to acknowledge people in the audience, and even recall anniversaries or special events in one’s life.