2019 Event Highlights


Musical bands and folklore dance groups came together on Sunday, August 4, 2019 to compete in the “Canadian Slovenians Have Talent” competition organized by the Button Akordion Rocks Slovenian Cultural Club and hosted by the Slovenian Hunters and Anglers Club (Lovska Farma) in Everett, Ontario. By all accounts it was a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting experience for all present.

Sarah Larsen, member of the Button Accordion Rocks Club organizing committee opened the formal program by welcoming all participants, dancers, musicians, judges, sponsors, special guests, volunteers, and music fans.  Sarah thanked Bill Kocjančič, President of the Lovska Farma for hosting this event.  Bill was invited on stage to say a few words.  He welcomed everyone and expressed his club’s support for events, which bring together young and old, friends and families in celebration of our common cultural heritage. 

President Bill Kocjancic and Announcer Sarah Larsen

Special guests who joined us on this day of music and dance included the Honourable Floyd Pinto, Mayor of Adjala Tosorontio Township and Mrs. Veronika Kovač-Margutsch, President of Vseslovenski kulturni odbor (VSKO).  Her Excellency, Dr. Melita Gabrič, Ambassador of Slovenia to Canada was not able to attend, but sent us warm greetings in a letter read out to all present by Adrianna Šuštar, Embassy Secretary.

Melodie Šuštar, our skillful master of ceremonies was then invited to preside over the main entertainment program. Melody comes from a talented family with strong connections and involvement in the cultural activities of the Canadian Slovenian community. Among many of her accomplishments, Melodie has been a dancer and teacher with the Mladi Glas Planika folklore dance group for almost two decades.

Emcee Melodie Sustar

Our lineup of contestants and performers included some familiar and some brand new musical talents. First up was Polka Maestre Tony Jalovec, a well-known musician in the local Slovenian community and beyond. Tony is a self-taught musician who was first inspired by his father to play the diatonic accordion over 25 years ago, and has been a popular entertainer ever since.

Polka Maestre Tony Jalovec

Ansambel Mladi Kanadčani comprised of young members from the musically talented Kuri and Gregoric families put on a great show earning them first place in the band category. Congratulations to Laura Kuri (trumpet), Matthew Kuri (clarinet), Jonathon Gregoric (diatonic accordion) and Nicolas Gregoric (baritone). We look forward to many more outstanding performances from these gifted teenagers.

Mladi Kanadcani2
Mladi Kanadcani Band1

The third generation of the Gregoric family demonstrated that musical talent does indeed run in families. The Gregoric Kids band delivered a beautiful and inspiring performance. It was emotionally stirring to see Nicolas (guitar), Jonathon (diatonic accordion), Anthony (upright bass), and Katerina (singer) carrying forward the cultural traditions of their parents and grandparents. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of more great things to come for these musically endowed siblings! 

Gregoric Kids Band

Dance group contestants Mladi Glas Jr and Mladi Glas Sr delivered captivating performances of traditional Slovenian folk dances as well as original choreography. Special mention goes to dance group members Ryan Mavec (accordionist) and Alena Ferkul (soloist) who provided live musical accompaniment to the dancers. Shout out also goes to dance teachers Nancy Grdadolnik-Kajin and Diana Blas for the great job they are doing with the Canadian Slovenian youth. Congratulations to Mladi Glas Sr. for achieving first place in the dance group category.

Mladi Glas Sr
Mladi Glas Jr 1
Mladi Glas Jr 5
MGP Ryan Mavec Accordionist Alena Ferkul Singer
Nancy Kajin MGP Dance Teacher

Recently formed Slovenian dance group, Plesati, from Ottawa performed audience-pleasing performances to the skillful accompaniment of accordionist Danny Šuštar.  It was so lovely to watch this endearing group of youngsters singing and dancing to the old Slovenian folksongs. 

Plesati Dance Group
Plesati Group Photo
Danny Sustar Accordionist for Plesati

Congratulations to founding dance teachers Adrianna Šuštar and Maria Colja for starting up this group. We wish them continued success in growing the fledgling group and spreading their enthusiasm and infectious joy throughout the community.

Plesati Dance Teachers

The judges’ panel included Matthew Lebar, well known musician, band leader, music teacher, and pillar of the Canadian Slovenian community in Ontario.  Joining him was Dave Antolin, who started dancing as a youth with the Soča folklore dance group and went on to become founder of the F.S. Venec folklore dance group based in Hamilton, Ontario. Rounding out the judges’ panel was Janez Smrekar, dancer and teacher in the Nagelj folklore dance group and also popular singer and accordionist in the "Stiri Krompirji!" musical band.


Presiding over the awards presentation was Janez Smrekar, assisted by Leslie Brlec, who presented monetary prizes to each contestant band and dance group, and also distributed individual commemorative medals to all participating members.

Announcer Janez Smrekar and Leslie Brlec

In between contestant performances and during the judges’ deliberation, the audience enjoyed a non-stop program of entertainment by the 2018 domestic button accordion champions -- Mark Marentic, adult champion; Vida Godina, female champion; and Jonathon Gregoric, youth champion. Jonathon was joined on stage by his musically talented brother and father, Nicolas and Michael Gregoric, respectively. 

Ansambel Europa had the crowd up on the dance floor showcasing their own unique moves.

2018 Adult Champion Mark Marentic
2018 Female Champion Vida Godina
2018 Youth Champion Jonathon with Gregoric Trio

Mike Trigiani, who has been known to sing, play guitar and occasionally do standup comedy, entertained the crowd with his witty banter, while he led the raffle draw for many cool prizes won by the lucky ticket holders.

Mike Trigiani Raffle Announcement

The Button Akordion Rocks Club extends sincere thanks to the sponsors, advertisers, and raffle donators who provided financial support or product donations for this event. Thank you also to the producers of Radio Glas Kanadskih Slovencev Toronto for their enthusiastic advertising of our event over the airwaves.

We are especially grateful to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia Office of Slovenians Abroad for their generous grant. We would not be able to put on such a successful event without the support of our sponsors.

Thank you to the participating organizations: Moya Financial Credit Union, Canadian Slovenian Historical Society, and Slovenski Dom for their onsite displays and support at this event. Their constant presence and participation at so many cultural events enriches the community and reinforces cultural bonds across generations of Canadian Slovenians.

At a time when many Slovenian cultural clubs face challenges in maintaining membership levels and finding volunteers willing to work at events, we wish to acknowledge Bill Kocjančič, President of the Slovenian Hunters and Anglers Club and his executive committee for agreeing to host this event at their beautiful facilities. We also thank his club members for their warm hospitality and hard work before, during, and after, ensuring that plenty of good food and refreshments were available throughout the day’s event.


Thank you also to the volunteers and organizing committee members of the Button Akordion Rocks Club for making this day a great success: Melodie Šuštar, Dave Antolin, Janez Smrekar, Matthew Lebar, Franca Anderson, Leslie Brlec, Tanja Trigiani, Sarah Larsen, Dave Pusic, Natasha Lesar, Eric Pusic, Mike Trigiani, Joe Klanfar, Martin Pusic, and Majda Pusic.

Congratulations to all the talented musicians, dancers and singers who participated in this friendly competition. Last but not least, we salute the Canadian Slovenian families who continue to nurture their rich cultural heritage of music, song and dance in each new generation. 

Lepo Je Biti Muzikant

Vse vrti se naokrog, mlado, srednje in staro,
poskakuje urnih nog, pozno v noč veselo bo.
Ko jo ureže stari bas, fantje vriskajo na glas
in udarjajo z nogo, še veselo bo.

Kako lepo je biti muzikant,
vedo dekleta, kdo je zanje pravi fant.
Zagodi zdaj, veseli muzikant,
potegni še enkrat svoj stari škant.

Kdor pa kislo se drži, tu početi kaj mu ni,
naj bo kar lepo doma, naj ga var’je mamica.
So dekleta sem prišla, da jim godba zaigra,
vsaka išče pravega fanta brhkega.

— Izvajalec: Ansambel bratov Avsenik
— Avtor besedila: Marjan Stare
— Avtor glasbe: Slavko Avsenik, Vilko Ovsenik

© Martin Pusic 2015 - 2022