By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
YUKON, OK – The 52nd annual Czech Festival, Oklahoma’s largest free festival, will be held on Saturday, October 7 in the heart of downtown Yukon. Festival goers will experience Czech culture including food, music, dancing, traditional costumes and imported merchandise.
The Czech Building, 25 N. 5th Street, will open at 8 a.m. with a souvenir booth, kolaches (individual & dozen sold), klobasa sandwiches, and cold klobasa by the pound. Free program books will be available for guests containing information about the 2016-2017 royalty and their adventures throughout the year.
“The Oklahoma Czech Festival is a way to connect with our heritage and culture by celebrating with family, friends, and our community,” said Marjorie Jezek, President of the Oklahoma Czech Inc. “We celebrate with a parade, crafts, baked goods, and authentic Czech dinners. There are many craft and food vendors with a plethora of different things. There is plenty to eat, see, hear, and experience.
“You can also watch the Czech Royalty pageant, where many young women, boys, and girls can compete for a chance to be crowned queen, junior queen, prince, or princess.”
Held each year on the 1st Saturday in October, the day-long festival will officially get underway at 10 a.m. with one of the state’s largest parades, which will take place in the heart of Yukon on Main Street, a stretch of Historic Route 66.
As thousands line Main Street, the parade will step off at Garth Brooks Boulevard and proceed East on Main ending at the Railroad tracks at 3rd Street. The procession lasts about one and a half hours. Main street will close at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Oklahoma Czech Royalty Pageant contestants will be featured in the parade along with Czech dancers, local businesses, civic and youth groups.
Also at 10 a.m., the Pivo (beer) Gardens, located next to the Czech Building, will begin serving brew and authentic Czech Dinners .
Following the parade, festivities will move to the Oklahoma Czech Building on 5th Street, one block north of Main Street.
A variety of family entertainment will be provided throughout the day including polka music, dancing, carnival rides, a petting zoo and a top-rated craft show with more than 150 booths.
Live Czech music will take place outside the Czech Building from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., along with singing, dancing, and a live polka band.
At 4 p.m. the Parade float winners will be announced. Immediately following, the 2017-2018 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Royalty, the Queen, Jr. Queen, Princess and Prince will be honored.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. over 150 craft booths, along with more than 30 food vendors will be located on 5th street, as well as North and South of Main. The public is invited to visit the Yukon Chamber of Commerce vendor booths on 4th Street, just South of Main.
Traditional Czech foods including kolace pastries, klobasy sandwiches and bread will be available for purchase throughout the day. Members and volunteers bake more than 2,500 dozen kolaches which sell out every year.
The Czech Festival will conclude with the popular Oklahoma Czech Royalty Coronation Ball. The event will be held at the historical Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N. Czech Hall Road located south of I-40 on Czech Hall Road (aka Cornwell Drive). The public is invited to attend.
“The Czech Festival is our way of preserving and sharing the old Czech customs along with providing some of the traditional Czech foods, so dear to the people of Czech decent,” said Jezek. “These customs and food recipes have been handed down from generation to generation.”
For more information, visit czechfestivaloklahoma.com or contact Marjorie at 405-206-8142.