Yukon Czech Day starts with Main Street parade

55th Czech heritage celebration presented Saturday; no carnival this time

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Dressed in their colorful kroj (native attire), members of the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers ride on their float during Yukon’s popular Czech Day parade. The 55th Oklahoma Czech Festival will be Saturday, Oct. 2 in Yukon. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Dancers, musicians, Jeeps, motorcycles, Czech royalty, and more are among 101 entries featured in Saturday morning’s Yukon Czech Day parade.

The 10 a.m. parade on Yukon’s Main Street kicks off the 55th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival, which returns Oct. 2 after being canceled in 2020.

“We’re hoping for dry weather,” Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. President Marjorie Jezek said late this week. “We invite everyone to come out, have a good time and enjoy themselves.

“Next year will be even better!”

Tens of thousands of people will gather this Saturday in Yukon – the official Czech Capital of Oklahoma – to help celebrate this “wonderful occasion,” Jezek added.

“This year will be a challenge after missing last year’s Czech Festival due to the COVID-19 virus.”

Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. presents the day-long Czech heritage celebration in cooperation with the City of Yukon.

“We’ll have a huge turnout – with people from across the State of Oklahoma coming to Yukon to celebrate our Czech heritage and traditions,” Mayor Shelli Selby said.

“This is a great day for our city.”

The Yukon Czech Day parade starts on Garth Brooks Boulevard, proceeding east before ending at Third Street.

Other parade highlights will be school bands, Shriners, classic vehicles, pets, civic groups, fire trucks, and law enforcement vehicles.

This is Jaime Olvera’s first year as Oklahoma Czechs’ parade chairman. Parade registration was slow at first but really picked up in recent weeks, again surpassing 100 entries.

At noon this Saturday, the U.S., Czech and Slovak national anthems will be sung “under the tent” outside the Oklahoma Czechs Building, at Fifth and Cedar.

The Czech Building – one block north of Main Street – is the festival “hub”.

“We’ll have authentic Czech music and dancing all day,” Jezek said. “Our volunteers will sell kolaches, klobasy sandwiches and Czech souvenirs.

“Unfortunately, the Czech dinners will be unavailable this year due to COVID.”

Families watch the Czech Day parade entries on Yukon’s Main Street. Festivities traditionally begins at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of October. The parade starts at Garth Brooks Boulevard and proceeds east before ending at Third Street. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
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FOOD, CRAFTS AND MORE

The Oct. 2nd Oklahoma Czech Festival will feature about 130 craft booths, 30 food vendors and the crowning of the new Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty.

There will not be a carnival this Saturday, however.

“I couldn’t find one,” Jezek said. “They were all booked. We’ll have to wait until next year.”

Instead, there will be inflatables and pony rides near the craft booths.

When the Oklahoma Czech Festival was canceled in 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak, it was the first time since 1966 that Yukon hadn’t hosted an official celebration presented by Oklahoma Czechs, Inc.

The festival, which was started to celebrate Yukon’s 75th anniversary, is traditionally presented on the first Saturday in October.

Some 50 Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. members help present the festival.

“We would not be able to have such a wonderful festival without all of you,” Jezek said, thanking volunteers for their support.

The Oklahoma Czech Festival dance will be presented from 5:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday inside Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N Czech Hall.

The evening festivities will feature a royalty coronation ball with live music by the Masopust Polka Band and Bohemian Knights.