Kenneth Henneke 2006

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Kenneth Henneke
Inducted in 2006

Kenneth Henneke was born in Hallettsville, Texas to Fred and Hattie Tiemann Henneke. He was the youngest of four children: The oldest brother, Fred Henneke Jr., lost his life on December 16,1944 at the Battle of the Buldge; Dickie Henneke resides in Vsetin, Texas; and sister, Thelma Mikulenka, resides in Hallettsville. In 1961 Kenneth married Annie Mae Kallus of Hallettsville. Together they were blessed with five children: Randall Karl, who died at six weeks, Donna Lynn who married Michael Tater of Inez. Warren married Lisa Koncaba of Hallettsville. Amy married Bobby Machicek of Hallettsville. The youngest is Brian, who married Mary Gail Kuester and lives in Yoakum.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s Kenneth Henneke was appointed to the lector position of the Knights of Columbus Council #2433, which provided programs and entertainment for the monthly council meetings. Loving music, Kenneth would often recruit some of our local musicians, Frank Zaruba, Harry Hruzik and Richard Staha, to entertain their brother Knights, and e veryone loved it. At the same time, the neighboring community of Ezzell sponsored a fiddle jam session every year at theirl Community Center. Frank Zaruba, who would attend each year, was amazed at the success of the event, and at the next KC meeting, Frank approached Kenneth with the idea of throwing such an event of their very own. Kenneth agreed and suggested a state championship fiddling contest. Kenneth made contact with a good friend who also loved fiddle music, Mr. Cliff Fryer, who loved the idea and even put up the 1 st place prize money of $100. At one of the KC council meetings in the fall of 1970, Kenneth made a motion that the Knights of Columbus sponsor a new project, the Texas State Champion Fiddling Contest.

The proceeds would go towards the building of a new Knights of Columbus Hall, Frank Zaruba 2 nd the motion and the motion carried. Shortly afterwards, Frank came up with a more upbeat and catchy name, The Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics. Frank, Kenneth, Cliff and Velda, realizing that they had taken on a little more than they expected, became the co-founders and co- chairmen of the Fiddlers’ Frolics. Kenneth, not knowing a stranger, was selected to promote the event. He would handle advertisement and additional entertainment for the weekend.

First on the agenda was to set a date for the 1 st Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics. The co-founder’s decided on the 4 th Saturday in April. The latter part of April would provide comfortable spring weather and the Lavaca County countryside would be blanketed with beautiful wildflowers for all traveling to the contest to enjoy. The first ever Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics’ was held on April 24, 1971, at Weid Hall, just west of town. The Friday night preceding the Saturday contest would be a hospitality night for all the musicians and families who traveled to Hallettsville for the contest. This night proved to be a huge hit. It was the time when the knights could meet the contestants and their families, the musicians could jam and all could enjoy refreshment. Many new friendships were made at this “jam session” and to this day it is a reunion looked forward to each year. Saturday began the fiddling competition. A country-western dance followed after the contest on Saturday night. The first year a Hallettsville native performed, Miss Martha Lynn Head, who had her own band and country-western television show during these years. The problem was that she did not get to take the stage until 11:00 that night, as the fiddle contest had gone until almost 10:30.

For many years to come, the co-founders, and, occasionally, their wives, made the rounds to every fiddle contest they could find across the state of Texas in order to promote the Fiddlers’ Frolics. It was in doing so that they found many great fiddlers and guitar pickers. They invited them to come jam at the Frolics and enter the Fiddling Contest. The more they promoted the Frolics’, the more the competition grew into the prestigious contest that it is today. There were countless trips to radio and television stations, as well as newspaper interviews. They would jump at the chance to play for any media that would have them come to share their love for a true American pastime. Early on, they invited constructive input from fellow knights, fiddlers, guitar pickers and fans of the contest. They strongly feel that the contest has grown into what it is today due to their interaction with all who attend this weekend, many hours of service by the devoted knights, and the wonderful families who support them. Over the years, numerous individuals, sponsors and the great city of Hallettsville have contributed greatly to the success of the Frolics. Thanks to the help of so many great people, part of America’s heritage is celebrated each year at Hallettsville’s very own Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics.