Just about everyone has tried that saucy polka commonly referred to as "the chicken dance." With arms bent and elbows out, every participant gets the chance to look joyfully...

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Name: Nestle Williams.


Hometown: Raised in Monument, Ore., now living in Leavenworth.


Affiliation: Stage manager and committee member for the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.


How long she has been involved: Seven years; helped create the festival.


Accordion she plays most: A piano-style instrument made by Zupan International of Slovenia, with handmade Italian reeds.


Her story: Just about everyone has tried that saucy polka commonly referred to as “the chicken dance.” With arms bent and elbows out, every participant gets the chance to look joyfully goofy together. And it’s just a small portion of the kind of camaraderie available at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration June 16-19.


“I love to see the faces of little kids light up when they do the chicken dance,” said Nestle Williams, a stage manager for the festival.




At 64, she ought to know. She has seven children, 25 grandchildren and one great grandchild, many of whom are musical like their matriarch.


An avid accordion player, Williams picked up the instrument at the age of 12 and has played it ever since.


An enthusiastic music teacher combined with parents willing to buy the instrument helped launch her long musical career, which eventually led Williams to the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.


Following her passion for the accordion, she moved to Leavenworth with her husband 13 years ago after they retired from a chiropractic practice in Oregon. She has been a stage manager for seven out of the 10 years of the festival’s existence.


Oh, and she has a few other occupations on the side. She’s also an assistant manager of the Bavarian Ritz Hotel, an accordion performer two nights a week at the Andreas Keller German Restaurant, an accordion teacher to children two days a week, and choir director at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church.


“I’m backing off,” said Williams. “I’m not really retired.”


Her summer event: Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration is June 15-19. It features concerts, dances, competitions, vendors, workshops and an accordion parade. Downtown Leavenworth, Chelan County. Competition begins 9 a.m. June 16; various prices. More information: 509-548-5807 or www.accordioncelebration.com



Act to catch:
Bonnie Birch Trio from Seattle. “She is tops!” Williams says of lead accordionist Bonnie Birch. Saturday, June 19, 9 p.m.


— Jennifer Lloyd, staff reporter


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