- Associated Press - Saturday, August 30, 2014

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - In the age of social media and endless technological entertainment, it’s easy for classic traditions to fall by the wayside for more modern ways of having fun.

The Boulder Community Media, Sageland Media and folklorists from Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming are trying to make sure that same fate doesn’t befall Dutch Hop music by producing “Dutch Hop: The Documentary.”

On a recent Sunday, a crew was in Evans to film the Greeley Dutch Hoppers.

A form of polka music big in the German-Russian community from the Volga Region of Russia, Dutch Hop is an instrumental form of music most often featuring an accordion, trombone, keyboard and hammered dulcimer.

Georgia Wier, a folklorist who used to be a part of the Greeley Museums, said this has been a project eight years in the making. After years of fundraising and planning, filming started last summer. The tri-state area was the settling point about 70 years ago. The German-Russians were apt to work endless hours on beet fields. Through the years, one thing kept them sane and promoted community togetherness: Dutch Hop music.

The goal of the documentary, which is directed by award-winner Chris Simon, is to immerse viewers in scenes of energetic dancing, lilting music and various traditional foods that go with the Dutch Hop tradition.

Simon said the film tells their story through interviews with musicians, dancers and local folklorists. A $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts has helped make the production possible, along with contributions by the dancers themselves.

Simon and her crew filmed the Greeley Dutch Hoppers.

Stan Schilling and Jim Trostel have run the group since November, and they said the music and dancing is an integral part to their heritage.

Trostel said people from Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland all have their forms of polka, but Dutch Hop is completely different from any of those. In fact, he said he hardly classifies it as polka music because it’s so diverse.

Growing up in an age with no computers or cellphones to bury their faces in, they said dancing with their friends and family was their main source of entertainment.

But now that those distractions exist, the two are having difficulties getting younger generations to come out and embrace their history.

Trostel estimated the average age of the group is around 75. Schilling wasn’t so sure about that.

“Yeah, right. We have people in there who are 93 and would dance both of us under the table,” he said.

But with such a high average age and a lack of youth involvement in the traditions, there is a major cause for concern going forward.

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