Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Update: All things Czech

After my three week vacation in the Czech Lands, it was time to get back to work! With only 2 days of rest, I was back into action speaking and singing.

Throughout the summer, I was invited to numerous occasions. On June 15, I started the morning with a quick stop at the Fort Bend Chapter Czech Heritage Society Meeting. I sang the US/Czech anthems, spoke about my trip to CZ, described my Kroj and sang my song from the talent portion of the pageant. 

 After the Fort Bend meeting, I made my way to the Kolache Klobase Festival in East Bernard, TX. I haven't been there since I was a little girl with my Grandma. I felt so welcomed and at home. I was a special guest for the signing of the Proclamation for Flag day. I also sang the US and Czech anthem for the Flag and Veterans Tribute. Later in the day, I sang my song from the talent portion of the pageant. I'm glad I could share what I love doing at this festival. It was such a fun event to be at. Many of the popular Texas-Czech Polka Bands were playing and numerous people dancing. I can't wait to be back next year!

East Bernard Mayor signing the Proclamation

Edwin Marik and I with the East Bernard paper. I made their front page! 

This girl was adorable! She kept coming to see me. She was dressed in the cutest Texas-Czech Kroj.
Mark Dujka(from the Dujka Brothers.-a popular Texas-Czech band) and I

Veterans Tribute

Singing during the tribute

Makova Buchta!
Singing my talent song- I think everyone liked it :-)
 A few days after my busy Saturday, I attended the Fayette County Picnic. It was a nice time to be reunited with the group of people that have supported me for a year as their county queen. It was the first time seeing everyone again since the Texas pageant. I was overwhelmed with emotion. We were all tearing up from the excitement of it all, especially as I sang for those who weren't able to make it to the pageant. I've never really "teared up" while singing before, it has always been something I just do. But this time, it was something I can't explain. I'm so thankful for the Czech Heritage Society of Texas. They have always encouraged me since I was a little girl and they have seen me grow into a woman who truly has a passion for sharing heritage.

At the Fayette Co. Picnic. This was the only picture my Mom had taken. (She was tired-I don't blame her!) I wore my new apron that I bought in Domazlice on my trip. If anyone took any pictures, please send me a copy! :-)

The following weekend, I took part in the TCHCC & CHS Youth and Family Day! My Mom (Cindy Gentry) and I did a presentation on the Chodsko Bridal Kroj. We chose to do this presentation because many people are unaware of the process of putting on a kroj. Depending on the kroj, there are many layers! In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the same type of demonstrations are performed. It is part of their festivals.  So, my Mom and I wanted to re-create it at this event.

 Feeling a little under dressed, my Mom put on the pieces as I spoke about each layer. I also modeled two different head pieces. While this was going on, the kids were coloring cartoon pictures of myself in this bridal kroj. Some even had lots of questions! It was great to see them interactive during this presentation. 

Starting out in my petticoat, vest, red leggings and shoes.

Describing the vest

Mom putting on the blue skirt

Walking around to show everyone

Showing the white apron and answering questions along the way!

Mom putting on the delicate white lace that goes over the vest to protect the scarf from sweat. (the scarf will damage if it isn't protected)
An up-close view of the back
Almost dressed...but not quite. Speaking about the waistband.
Jacket is then put on...
Mom putting on the scarf..
Just about done....only one thing headpiece :-)
The back view....
We wanted to show our black scarf headpiece before I put on the usual Chodsko bridal head piece. This head piece is actually worn during a wedding if a woman had been previously "with a man." (That was awkward explaining!) hah! :-) 

Proud of my Mom for being such a pro at putting this on...
Back view
The piece of the scarf on the right side of my head is a smaller version of the flowers on the back hanging over my shoulder (there is a picture further down from my presentation at the Caldwell meeting). I am now holding the traditional Chodsko Bridal headpiece.

Complete :-)

Once I was fully dressed, I sang my song from the talent portion of the pageant. 

After my presentation, I dressed in my "casual, but still authentic kroj" from Domazlice. It's actually the first one we ever acquired. My Mom wore it back in her younger years! During the day, we enjoyed decorating perniky (gingerbread cookies), playing games and dancing. At the end, I joined in with the accordion and played my Vozembouch (Czech folk instrument/stump fiddle). The kids enjoyed learning how to play this unique instrument.
Kaylee Vargo (2014 Miss Czech-Slovak Princess of Lavaca Co.) and I about to decorate some Pernik with the kids.

My Czech-Slovak Little sister, Saylor decorating with new friends

The kids were playing a carnival game where they dug for eggs and found some money.

I joined in on the fun too!

Time to dance
We all joined in with instruments. Mine-the very popular Vozembouch "Ferda"

The next day, Kovanda's Czech Band played at the Brethren Church Picnic in Ellinger, TX. I can't believe I am on my 7th year singing traditional Czech songs with this band. The people at this picnic have been watching me perform since I was 16!

The following weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Dallas/Fort Worth for the 3rd Annual Czech School Conference at the Czech School of Dallas. Czech teachers from around the US, Czech/Slovak consulates, Czech Senators and the Czech Ambassador, Petr Gandalovič, were in attendance. This year was very special because Czech School of Dallas changed their name in honor of Vaclav Havel. I was delighted to sing "Kde Domov Muj?" with Nina Marcussen's daughter, Viktoria Marcussen, at the ceremony. 
Joe Klecka from the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas (CEFT)

Martin Valko (Honorary Consulate of the Slovak Republic to Texas) and Martina Fundaro

Michal Sedlacek (Czech Consulate from Los Angeles) and Nina Marcussen (Founder of the Czech Schook of Dallas)

Viktoria Marcussen, and Senator Tomáš Grulich

Introduction to the ceremony

Czech Ambassador - Petr Gandalovič

Senators: Jaroslav Kubera, Tomáš Grulich and Hassan Mezian
To me, this picture holds a thousand words that I cannot express, but, I will say this... I am standing next to a man who I have looked up to as a leader and to a beautiful portrait of a former president who, before presidency, stood up for the Czechoslovakian people during the Velvet Revolution. Havel continued to be a leader to the Czech people after the country divided. Gandalovič was a part of the Civic Forum a long with Havel, who helped establish the non-communist movement. Both men have had many different leadership roles and they are an inspiration to me. I feel completely lucky to have met Petr Gandalovič twice now. This time, more as friends!

On our schedule, we toured the Reunion Tower, 6th Floor Museum and a country western shop! We had a movie night presented by "Czech that Film" where we viewed "Don Juans" and even went to Fort Worth for the rodeo/Merle Haggard concert. We all (including the Senators and Ambassador) danced the night away! There were "hands on" workshops where we learned games for children from different teachers; how to weave wheat, make dough ornaments and paint eggs from artist and educator, Daniela Mahoney. It was an outstanding program! 

view from Reunion Tower
Petr and I on Reunion Tower

At the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas listening to an introduction about John F. Kennedy

view from the 6th floor window.
The group in "Wild Bills" country western store. 

A little cocktail hour in an art exhibit in Fort Worth

Ready for the Fort Worth Rodeo and some dancing at "Billy Bob's" with Senator Tomáš Grulich and Senator Jaroslav Kubera. All three senators looked like cowboys! It was great.

Michal Sedlacek presenting "Czech that Film"

Dawn Orsak talking about the PolkaWorks project- "Texas Czechs:Rooted in Tradition"

Mom and I learned how to wheat weave

Final products

We also learned how to make dough ornaments. That middle bunny at the top in the center ( that is looking quite questionable) yeah...that's mine! :-) I was proud of it hehe.
It was an incredible weekend that I will never forget! The following weekend I was invited to speak at the Burleson Chapter Czech Heritage Society Meeting. I did another presentation on the Chodsko Bridal Kroj. I was also given Caldwell's newspaper that had an article about me. Caldwell is a neat place because my grandma-Rose Sebek was born there and my great grandfather, Vojtech Sebek (who received a baking degree in Prague at Charles Univ.), used to work at the bakery in the town center. Unfortunately, it is no longer there. But, a painting on the wall at the Civic Center showed a part of it.
Vojtech worked at the bakery next to Surovik's pharmacy.

 picture of the back side of the jacket

A closer shot of the front. You can see there are two garnet pins. One holding the lace protector underneath the scarf. Another holding the scarf together.

An up close picture of my head pieces.
Mom crowning me before pictures with the Burleson group :-)

I've had a great summer being Miss Texas Czech-Slovak Queen. It is now time to rest and prepare for the Miss Czech-Slovak US pageant in Wilber, Nebraska on August 2-3. I've never been, so it will be something completely new to experience. Our family actually has a personal connection to Nebraska. My maternal great grandparents met in Omaha at the SOKOL and later married before moving to Texas. I am interested to see how Czech and Slovak heritage is shared in the Midwest.  I wish you all a blessed end of summer! I won't be able to keep you all updated during the pageant process, but I will give an update after. 

S láskou,
Christiana Gentry