By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s annual Czech heritage celebration officially “kicks off” this Sunday, Sept. 26 with the 2021-22 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty pageant.
Fourteen contestants will compete for the judges during the 2021-22 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty pageant at Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N Czech Hall Road.
The new Oklahoma Czech-Slovak queen, junior queen, prince, and princess will be announced on the afternoon of the 55th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival set Saturday, Oct. 2 in Yukon.
This Sunday’s pageant inside historic Yukon Czech Hall will not be open to the public due to COVID health and safety precautions, pageant director Debbie Kessler explained.
“We plan to ‘livestream’ the pageant,” she said this week. “We’ll post a link on the Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Royalty Facebook page.
“The video will be posted on a YouTube page so people can watch it afterward.”
Only family members and pageant participants will attend Sunday’s pageant, presented by Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. Master of ceremonies will be Renee Vause.
All contestants are judged on kroj (native dress) modeling and stage interviews. Junior queen and queen candidates also write essays about what their Czech-Slovak heritage means to them. Only queen contenders perform a talent.
The 14 candidates will compete for prizes – Czech accessories, gift cards, trophies, and more – awarded to winners, and first- and second- runners-up.
The 2021-22 Oklahoma-Czech Slovak Royalty will represent Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. at festivals, parades and special events across Oklahoma and surrounding states.
Both the pageant and festival were canceled in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021-22 royalty contestants who will compete at this Sunday’s Czech-Slovak pageant are:
- Anna Sedivy-Thompson, 21, of Edmond, daughter of David and Brenda Thompson
- Aspen Hein, 15, of Yukon, daughter of Scott and Annetta Hein
- Hannah Thomason, 15, of Yukon, daughter of Melody Duty and Todd Thomason
- Eva Thompson, 12, of Edmond, daughter of David and Brenda Thompson
- Hailey Erwin, 8, of Del City, daughter of Howie and Amanda Erwin
- Emma Fraser, 6, of Edmond, daughter of Todd and Jamie Fraser
- Sophie Gering, 10, of Oklahoma City, daughter of Rob and Rachel Gering
- Josie Jedlicka, 8, of Oklahoma City, daughter of Jyle and Alison Jedlicka
- London Lippencott, 8, of Mustang, daughter of Sarah Lippencott and Coby Lippencott
- Kennedy Myrick, 8, of Yukon, daughter of Scott and Alissa Myrick
- Ainsley Wesselski, 10, of Mustang, daughter of Tiffany Moeder and Chad Wesselski
- Elliott Gering, 8, of Oklahoma City, son of Rob and Rachel Gering
- Jon Jantz, 6, of Oklahoma City, son of Christen Jedlicka and Joel Jantz
- Seth Pruett, 10, of Prague, son of James and Melinda Pruett
Winners will be announced during a 4 p.m. ceremony Oct. 2 “under the tent” outside the Czech Building.
Passing their crowns will be the 2019-21 royalty – Queen Emily Cole, Junior Queen Kinzey Shirazi, Princess Lola Mae Yanda, and Prince Connor Imhoff. They were the first group in the pageant’s history to serve a two-year reign.
A royalty coronation ball with live music will conclude the festival that night at Yukon Czech Hall. Entertainment will be provided by the Bohemian Knights and Masopust Polka Band.
‘FUN FACTS’ REVEALING
Here are some interesting “fun facts” about the 14 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty contestants:
Hailey Erwin – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2017.
Took a heritage trip this summer to visit the towns in Nebraska where her great-great-grandparents came in the 1880’s when they immigrated from Bohemia. To represent her other great-great-grandparents, she wears a hedgehog from their Czech village’s coat of arms.
Emma Fraser – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2017.
Performed with Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers not only in Yukon but also at Czech festivals in Prague, OK, and Wilson, Kan. Has participated two years in the children’s parade at the Czech festival in Wilber, Neb. Both of her great-great-great grandfathers were among Prague’s founding pioneers. The third generation to participate in the pageant.
Sophie Gering – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2017.
Can sing the Czech and Slovak national anthems. Performed at Prague’s Kolache Festival. Teaches her friends about her heritage by bringing them to dance at the Saturday night dances at Yukon Czech Hall. Wears her mother’s childhood floral headpiece. Plays the viola.
Josie Jedlicka – Bakes kolaches with her grandmother every month.
Recites most of the Lord’s Prayer in Czech. Has attended both the Yukon and Prague festivals every year since she was born. In gymnastics for three years. Participates in community clean-ups at schools and parks.
London Lippencott – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2018.
Third year to participate in the pageant. Her accordion-playing great-grandfather has inspired her to become involved in her heritage. Her kroj honors her grandmother. Is a Girl Scout. Helped with Mustang’s district “Thank-A-Teacher” drive to support teachers who worked through Covid.
Kennedy Myrick – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2017.
Third year to participate in the pageant. Four years on a competitive cheer team. Upon their arrival in America, her ancestors had to remain in Maryland and pick cranberries until they had the money to move out west. Her great-great-great grandfather was in Oklahoma Land Run.
Ainsley Wesselski – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2019.
Plays volleyball and the piano. Wants to be a veterinarian. Favorite Czech song is “Annie in the Cabbage Patch.” Loves any vegetable that comes pickled. Creates music videos. Her favorite food is kolaches. Enjoys getting kolaches from Hruska’s on her way to visit family in Texas.
Elliott Gering – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2018.
The third generation of children to dance on Czech Day. Loves to attend Saturday night dances at Yukon Czech Hall. Is a Yellow Belt in Taekwondo.
Jon Jantz – Helps his Mimi bake kolaches.
Favorite book is Cat in the Hat. Loves playing Chutes & Ladders and Uno. Favorite food is Babish Salmonwhich is also his favorite thing to cook.
Seth Pruett – Performs with both the Yukon Czech Dancers and the Prague Kolache Dancers.
Lives and helps dad with the livestock on the family Centennial Farm purchased by his Moravian great-great grandparents when they immigrated over 100 years ago. Has participated in the children’s parade at the Czech festival in Wilber, Neb. Is a Cub Scout. Shows livestock with 4-H.
Aspen Hein – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2015.
Has been a kolache baker for the last five Oklahoma Czech Festivals. Is a Masonic Lodge Student of Today recipient. All-State Choir member. Has danced competitively for seven years in Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, and Pointe.
“We can’t just talk about our heritage. We must live it, speak it, sign it, and even bake it.”
Hannah Thomason – Has been a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since 2021.
Family tradition of eating Hoska bread on Christmas morning. Volunteers at Pets & People, Autism Oklahoma, and the Infant Crisis Center. Has been a Girl Scout for 8 years. Member of YHS Colla Voce Choir and the golf team.
“You should know about your ancestors and pass down traditions to future generations so that they are not lost.”
Eva Thompson – Was a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers in 2014.
Her family heritage activities include baking kolaches with grandmother, dancing with family at Yukon Czech Hall, and studying Czech folklore with her sister. Made a quilt with the Czech Flag. Plays the cello.
“I love being Czech because the culture is so amazing.”
Anna Sedivy-Thompson – Was a member of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers/Beseda Dancers in 2007-2011.
Played violin with the Masopust Polka Band. Served as the 2008-09 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Princess. Helped bake kolaches for the 2005 and 2006 festivals. Makes and sells traditional Czech-Slovak art. Plays the piano, violin, and cello. Is a member of OU’s engineering honor society. Spent the summer in Minnesota working an internship in radiology/computer science research with the Mayo Clinic.
“Preserving, sharing, and celebrating my Czech-Slovak heritage is something that fills me with deep pride and joy.”