Over Labor day weekend, I attended Westfest in the small town of West, TX. West is located right outside of Waco. It may seem like a little town, but the heart and soul of the population is bigger than ever.
Most people had never heard of West, Texas until April 17, 2013 when a fertilizer plant exploded. It was basically the explosion that was heard around the world. Literally. One of the reasons why it was such breaking news in other countries was because it encompasses a large community of Czech people. Many are older Czech immigrants as well as 2nd, 3rd or 4th generations. Regardless of the numerical lineage, this town lives and breathes Czech traditions and culture. When the blast occurred, Czech ambassador-Petr Gandalovic visited the town and the Czech Republic even sent funding to help re-build the town. It was a horrible event that killed 15 people, destroyed more than 150 buildings, and injured around 160 people.
Through this very tough recovery, the spirit and pride of the people did not get broken. Today, West, Texas is still thriving with Czech pride.
During the weekend I participated in the parade, had meet-and-greets with guests and was a "Kolache Contest" judge. It was a very fast paced weekend, much like Nationals!
|Texas pageant director, Kathy Podsednik, myself and Miss Czech Slovak US 2006, Sarah Middlebrook Armor at the Kolache Contest|
I did a little entertainment during the waiting period of calculating the results ;-)
Thanks Czech Costumes for capturing my song.
Christiana singing "Hallelujah" at the Westfest Kolache Contest
|Our "Czech Wine Cellar" float. During judging we spoke about the vineyards in Moravia and I also sang for the judges. We received 1st place!|
|We had to take a "selfie" before the parade started!|
|A little fan :-)|
|Saylor and I modeling our kroje during the "Parade of Kroj"|
|Saylor signing her autograph hehe!|
|My "manager" aka my Mom!|
|Julia Ourecky-photographer of the newspaper "Czech Slavnosti." Super sweet young lady! I met her in Nebraska|
|A group picture after the Parade of Kroj|
|I was also able to enjoy the weekend as a visitor |
PS. I'm a fan of Viktoria Plzen #teamKolář ;-)
One of the biggest bands that perform at Westfest is the grammy award- winning, Brave Combo. I have never seen them before, but it was quite the experience! They are an edgy classic rock/polka/worldbeat band. They turn any Czech polka song into their own. Here's a short clip:
The following week, I went to the opening of the new exhibit- TEXAS CZECHS: ROOTED IN TRADITION at the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria, TX. I sang "Kde Domov Muj?" (Czech National Anthem) and met with the visitors. Being that it was a Texas event, I represented my current Texas title. It is a beautiful exhibit and the creators, Dawn Orsak and Lori Najvar did an amazing job putting everything together. I can't wait to see where the exhibit takes these ladies. If you are in Victoria, stop by and see it!
|A picture with Dawn and Lori|
|I am featured on some of their panels! It's really neat to be a part of something so special. After the event, the ladies gave me a gift which was a smaller version of this panel. I love it!|
|My friends that live in Moravia. I went to visit them this past summer. We were featured on the "Family and Homeland" slide|
|Texas Czech: Victoria Mayor Polasek|
|Hands-on Learning about Texas Czechs and the heritage|
If you would like to know more about the exhibit, please visit: http://www.polkaworks.org/
Two days after the exhibit event, Saylor and I attended the Caldwell Kolache Festival. At the opening of the festival, I sang the American and Czech National Anthem as well as "Texas Our Texas." We didn't get to stay very long at the festival because it started to storm. But, we made the most of it by buying many kolaches and visiting the vendors. You can't leave a festival without buying something!! :-)
|Walking around the festival|
|My cousin, Joey Taska. He's my paternal cousin and is also half Czech!|
|This was a cute picture taken by Saylor's Babi (grandmother)|
|A couple of my purchases. Beautiful, hand-made signs from "S Designs"|
This event was extra special to me. My maternal grandmother was born in Caldwell and my great grandfather used his baking degree from Charles University (Prague) to work in the bakery that used to be in the town center. I feel honored that I was invited to be a part of such a special event.
Last weekend, I attended the St. Cyril and Methodius Slavic Heritage Festival. Every year, this festival is full of color celebrating cultures with many types of costumes from the Czech, Polish, Ukranian and Croatian groups. I always love seeing the differences and similarities between the cultures. All types of food and vendors lined the hall. Every year, the board of the Slavic Festival chooses festival princesses from each culture. It was such a nice and thoughtful award to represent in honor of the Czechs. I also sang the Czech Anthem during the opening ceremony.
|/Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Croatia|
|Ukranian dancers (photo from Dawn Orsak)|
|Dawn Orsak and Justyna Uschak of Houston (Ukrainian) with the blouses she made. (photo from Dawn Orsak)|
|Czech Heritage Society members: Jean Rayhill, Steve Vrana and Lori Najvar (photo from Dawn Orsak)|
Now that September is coming to a close, I look forward to the exciting times that come in October! If you know of an event coming up, feel free to send me a message or e-mail! I would love to attend your events or even do presentations on the Czech and Slovak Culture and talk about the Miss Czech Slovak US pageant. For now, my weekends are full in the month of October, but November has available dates.
Mnohokrát děkuji za čtení!