The concept of a national polka convention had been developed and pioneered in Chicago, and the first polka convention was held in 1963. This convention developed into the International Polka Convention which was presented each succeeding year in Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo, New York. In 1968, a steering committee began preparations for the formation of the International Polka Association. The Association was officially chartered by the State of Illinois as a "not for profit" corporation and was registered with the County of Cook (Chicago) in August of 1968. As stated in its charter, the International Polka Association was organized as: "An educational and charitable organization for the preservation, promulgation and advancement of polka music and; to promote, maintain and advance public interest in polka entertainment; to advance the mutual interests and encourage greater cooperation among its members who are engaged in polka entertainment; and to encourage and pursue the study of polka music, dancing and traditional folklore."
The IPA is structured to serve as an educational resource. The IPA is also responsible for the continued operation and growth of the Polka Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It is through this branch that the Association has been able to continue its historical, educational and research goals on behalf of polka music.