By Conrad Dudderar
A traditional morning parade down Yukon’s Main Street will return for this fall’s Oklahoma Czech Festival.
Oklahoma Czechs Inc. President Marjorie Jezek said Yukon’s 56th Czech heritage celebration will be staged Saturday, Oct. 2.
“We’re excited to be back on everybody’s calendar,” said Jezek, who has been festival coordinator 18 years. “We want to get out there and entertain people.”
With events and facilities reopening across Oklahoma, preparations already are underway for Czech Day 2021 after a one-year COVID break.
“We are having the parade,” Jezek reported this week. “We were waiting to see if other festivals were going to having their parades, because that’s where most of the people stand the closest together.
“We just wanted to be on the safe side.”
Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. has a new parade chairman, Jaime Olvera.
“People can call him at (405) 210-0210 with their parade entries,” Jezek said. “We have space for as many as we can get.”
Parade winners will be announced about 4 p.m. Oct. 2 outside the Czech Building, the festival’s “hub.”
Other Yukon Czech Day festivities will include a craft show, food booths, live Czech music and dancing, and crowning of the 2021-22 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty.
“Everybody’s starting to get excited about it,” Jezek said.
When Yukon’s Czech heritage celebration was scrapped in 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak, it was the first time since the mid-‘60s that Yukon hadn’t hosted an official festival presented by Oklahoma Czechs, Inc.
In recent decades, Yukon’s Czech Day has attracted crowds estimated at 50,000 people. This festival is the City of Yukon’s largest event.
KOLACHES YES, CARNIVAL NO
Oklahoma Czechs volunteers will offer eight flavors of that much-desired Czech pastry, kolaches, to festival-goers Oct. 2.
“We’re going to start baking kolaches right after the Fourth of July,” Jezek said. “We’re going to bake as many as we can. We’re not going to try to hit the 2,500 dozen because we don’t know what traffic is going to be like.
“We have two groups, and we’ll bake twice a week every week for July and August, and then we’re going to throw in a few Saturdays. So, we’ll have plenty of kolaches.”
Jezek also coordinates the Czech Festival craft booths outside the Czech Building at 5th and Cedar. Some 156 spaces are available.
“I’m about a third full already,” she said. “They’re not shying away at all.”
Although the Oklahoma Czech Festival returns to downtown Yukon this fall, one popular attraction won’t be back until 2022.
“We won’t have a carnival this year,” Jezek said. “We couldn’t get one. I called every carnival I could find, and they’re all booked up.
“We will have inflatables there by the craft booths. There will be more inflatables for the kids to jump up and down on. We’ll also have mechanical bull riding and pony rides.”
Yukon has officially been proclaimed as the “Czech Capital of Oklahoma.”
The Oklahoma Czech Festival, which started in October 1966 as a celebration of Yukon’s 75th birthday, has traditionally been presented on the first Saturday in October.
It will again Oct. 2, and people are counting down the days.