By Conrad Dudderar
Rain subsided early Saturday morning as the skies cleared, providing an ideal setting for the return of Yukon’s Czech Day.
Tens of thousands of people joined in Yukon Oct. 2 for the 55th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival.
Members of Oklahoma Czechs. Inc., which presents the Czech heritage celebration on the first Saturday of October, didn’t quite know what type of crowd to expect.
“I was a little worried at first because of the weather,” Oklahoma Czechs President Marjorie Jezek said. “But by 8 a.m., the rain had cleared out.
“We had sunny skies. It could not have been any better.
“It was a perfect day.”
The official Oklahoma Czech Festival was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
That was the first time there wasn’t a festival since 1966, when the inaugural event celebrated Yukon’s 75th anniversary.
Jezek, who has been festival coordinator for 19 years, said everything this year “went real smoothly … no problems whatsoever.”
“I only wish we had more klobasy and kolache. But we didn’t know what to plan for.”
Organizers learned to have more of two tasty items ready for the 2022 festival.
Oklahoma Czechs’ volunteers baked some 24,000 kolaches (the Czech pastry) in eight flavors and ordered 1,250 pounds of klobasy (sausage).
Kolaches, sold by the half dozen, were gone by 10 a.m. Individual kolaches were sold out by 11:30 a.m.
All the klobasy – offered both in hot sandwiches and packaged cold – were sold out by 2:30 p.m.
Among festival volunteers were three granddaughters of John Kouba, the founder and first president of Oklahoma Czechs, Inc.
Jimmie Pallesen and Jerry Wilson, both of Kingston, were joined by Jacque Poole who came from her home in Oregon for this year’s festival.
These three women donned aprons to sell klobasy sandwiches inside the Czech Building.
103 PARADE ENTRIES
Czech Day 2021 got kicked off at 10 a.m. with a loud cannon sound for a parade along Yukon’s Main Street.
There ended up being 103 parade entries, surpassing new parade coordinator Jaime Olvera’s goal.
India Shriners, Jeeps, motorcycles, pets, school bands, fire trucks, Czech royalty, and police vehicles were among parade highlights.
District 60 State Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, helped welcome the Czech Day crowd after the U.S., Czech and Slovak national anthems were sung around noon.
“We think this is the best festival in Oklahoma,” Baker said. “We’re glad you are all here.”
Traditional Czech dancing and music was featured all afternoon outside the Oklahoma Czechs Building, Fifth and Cedar.
There were some 130 craft vendors and 30 food booths on the festival grounds.
“All my vendors said they did better here than they had anyplace all year,” said Jezek, in her 16th year as Oklahoma Czechs’ president. “Everybody was happy.”
Shortly after 4 p.m., the 2021-22 Oklahoma Czech royalty was announced: Queen Anna Sedivy-Thompson of Edmond, Junior Queen Aspen Hein of Yukon, Princess Kennedy Myrick of Yukon, and Prince Seth Pruett of Prague.
Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N Czech Hall Road, hosted the royalty coronation ball with live music Saturday night.
Highlights were performances by the Oklahoma Czech Dancers, Masopust Polka Band, and Bohemian Knights Band.