By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Although the annual Oklahoma Czech Festival in downtown Yukon was canceled, that hasn’t stopped a group of local Czechs from planning festivities for the first Saturday in October.
Organizers intend to host a Czech heritage celebration on Saturday night, Oct. 3 inside Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N Czech Hall Road.
Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. this spring canceled the 55th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The festival brings tens of thousands of people to Yukon on the first Saturday in October to celebrate Czech customs and traditions.
“We can’t have a year with no festival,” said Elaine Benda, a member of Yukon Czech Hall and president of WFLA Lodge #67. “We want to get the word out to people that the festival is not really, totally canceled. It still is going to be observed, just in a different way.”
Although Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. has canceled the daytime part of this year’s Czech Day, members of Yukon Czech Hall will present an evening celebration on the first Saturday in October.
“We are still in the planning stages,” Benda said this week. “We are trying to make our plans so that we can modify anything as the environment changes.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do exactly, but we definitely will be doing something. The members of Yukon Czech Hall started the festival, and we are not going to let it skip a year!”
The Oct. 3rd scaled-down Yukon Czech celebration will feature live bands, food and dancing inside Yukon Czech Hall.
Yukon Czech Hall members celebrate the Czech heritage all year anyway, hosting regular Saturday night dances with live music.
“We never stop,” Benda said.
Benda has been to every single Czech Festival in Yukon since the annual celebration began in 1966.
Benda, who chairs the folk dancing and festival entertainment committees for Oklahoma Czechs Inc., was grand marshal of last year’s Czech Day parade.
Yukon began celebrating its Czech heritage with the first festival in October 1966 as part of Yukon’s 75th anniversary. Yukon is officially the “Czech Capital of Oklahoma.”
Yukon Czech Hall also will host a beginner’s Czech Language Class starting Sept. 14 taught by Czech language professor Petra Hunter. See story in an upcoming edition of The Yukon Progress.
For more information on Czech Hall activities, contact Benda at email@example.com or (405) 721-4396.