How to Stay Cool While Wearing Kroje

imageNow that summer is here in full force, we have to think about how to stay cool while wearing kroje. This is not an easy task. Wearing kroje usually requires (for women) at least a blouse, vest, skirt, apron, tights, and shoes. Most times there are also multiple skirts plus boots! It’s hard to stay cool when you’re wearing so many clothes.

On top of normal festivals that are often inside (at least part of the time), there are also parades. Unfortunately, these are not inside. The parades are usually scheduled on the hottest days of the year, at the hottest part of the day to test your poise as a queen, or so I’m convinced. Therefore, I believe it is my duty to share some wisdom on the subject.

Here are my suggestions on how to stay cool when you have to wear kroje:
1. Seek shade or shelter when possible. This is an obvious one.

2. Drink lots of cold water. Cooler water will help you feel more refreshed and they double as ice packs.

3. Strip unimportant layers off when necessary. This means that you need to be prepared to go shoe and tightless for parades. I know this is taboo in a normal situation, but parades have different rules. It doesn’t do any good to wear tights during a parade if they are soaked and you have to change them after anyway. Also, if no tights make the difference in whether or not you feel like dying of heat stroke, just take them off. You will be forgiven.

4. Invest in a neck cooler. They are those weird fabric squares that are stored in plastic tubes that you get wet and keep you blissfully cool all afternoon. These are great if you can find one in the same color as your kroje, get it wet, put it around your neck, and tuck under your blouse. Genius!

5. Wear a jumper. A jumper is a one piece dress. For kroje that means that you don’t have a separate vest and skirt; they are made as one piece. Often jumpers are made of a light cotton that you wear a blouse under and an apron on top, thus eliminating a layer. A good example of a jumper is the Domažlice kroje.

6. Have your kroje be made with lighter fabrics. Use lighter colors and lighter weight fabrics such as cotton to keep you cooler. Or, have interchangeable pieces, such as short sleeves for hot days and parades and longer sleeves for coolers days and inside events.

7. Keep an umbrella handy. An umbrella can help keep the Sun’s blazing rays off your skin. No sun burn and less heat.

8. Wear moisture wicking clothes under your kroje. This may sound like an extra layer and it is, but that bottom layer helps pull the sweat off your skin and cools you down. This may not be ideal for the whole day, but it’s a good way to keep your kroje cleaner.*

9. Bring a change of kroje. If all else fails and you are miserably sweaty and gross, then change into another kroje. Remember that queens don’t actually sweat though, we glisten.

10. Enlist an entourage. Ask family and friends to help with keeping you cool, hydrated, and feeling great! Have someone be in charge of the cooler and bringing you water when needed. Maybe, someone else is your official fanner. Have fun with it. You are a queen after all and you should be treated as one 😉

*tip courtesy of Michaela Steager, current Nebraska Czech-Slovak Queen.

 

If you want to hear more about being a Czech Queen, you can read about the Nebraska Czechs here, why I became a Czech queen here, my struggles here, and my tips on preparing for the pageant here.

As always, you can ask me questions or let me know your thoughts below on on the Facebook page. Happy cooling.

Choosing your Kroje and Success at Nationals

Meagan0I have another amazing post in store for you today as we continue week two of guest posts from the Czech community. Miss Meagan Kurmel is the current Miss Czech-Slovak US! She is from Omaha, Nebraska where she and her fiance are engineers and travel most weekends as ambassadors to the Czech and Slovak communities. In the following post, Meagan talks about how kroje impacted her journey to and success at Nationals. She also gives some fun tips to anyone looking to compete in the pageants. Here we go!

While I was preparing for the Nebraska and then national pageant, I was constantly centering myself on encouraging involvement in the culture and preserving the heritage. However, I wanted to ensure that I was being genuine to myself and was portraying myself as I am. Since the pageant topics are very encompassing, I found it was easiest for me to digest them in smaller pieces.

After accepting the honor of representing the Omaha chapter, I sat down with my family to discuss the pageant. We had a pretty good idea of where our ancestry was from. There were also some kroj that we had that were authentic in my family. After long talks, my family and I decided together that going authentic was the best route for me. However, when I ran for Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska there was a rule stating that you could not wear more than one authentic piece. So we recreated one of the kroj and wore the vest as the authentic piece, in addition to authentic jewelry.

I have found that choosing Authentic or Americanized kroj is a deeply personal choice. Whichever is chosen, I would suggest to link it to you, your family, and your heritage. Making this choice sooner in the preparation for the pageant gives you and your family more time to research, design, make, and prepare your kroj. And trust me, more time is better! Another item I have found with kroj is that you need to make it your own. You should wear your kroj proudly and it should represent you, your family and where your family is from. Don’t forget the little details that bring your personality into it. For me this is totally about the shoes! See below for my description that I used:

Meagan is wearing an authentic kroj replicating her grandmother Helen Janicek-Kurmel’s kroj. This dates back to the early 20th century from the Piestany region of Slovakia. Meagan’s great-grandfather Frank Janicek emigrated from this region in the early 1900’s. The Piestany region is known for highly skilled silversmiths. Their craftsmanship is reflected in the silver embellishments seen throughout the kroj.

 Meagan’s blouse and cap are replicas of her grandmother’s. They are of fine cotton and decorated with yellow and orange cutwork embroidery, incorporating metallic threads in a floral design. The vest is of floral brocade and trimmed with ribbons and features three silver clasps, silver wire, and ten silver buttons. These clasps are traditionally on a black, blue or green bodice where the metal craftsmanship can be seen.

 Meagan is wearing her grandma Helen’s skirt. The full skirt is a two piece skirt-set made with black cotton fabric and smocked around the waist. Each is trimmed with embroidery in ivory, yellow and peach. You can see the many small stitches creating the raised designs. The skirt is trimmed with an ivory bobbin lace.

 This is completed with black boots and a floral Czech ribbon tied into a bow. This is the same sash her grandmother wore with her kroj. Meagan has accessorized her kroj with garnet jewelry. Her favorite piece is the garnet bracelet from her parents. The collection of garnet pendants from various family members reminds Meagan of what she values most in life…..family, love, and kindness.

The way I see it, the personal interview and the on stage interview really go hand in hand. I felt it was important to be very familiar with the history of our culture, be current on present day events, and know some about the culture. I also felt that, since I was wearing an authentic kroj, that I was knowledgeable in what I was wearing. I made sure to research what type of kroj was worn, from what villages, and when. I also found it fun to learn the small differences that set one village’s kroj apart from another. This is such a fun and interesting way to learn about our shared heritage.

One little tip I learned from being nervous for interviews, both on and off stage, is to take a deep breath and just be you. There is nothing better you can do than be you! And maybe, crack a really good joke!

For talent, I have found that each judge is looking at your presentation from a different angle. I would suggest to do something that you feel showcases your talent. Keep it clean and streamlined. If you are going to sing, keep your whole talent presentation about your singing. Also the stage size could play into how you present your talent. This is definitely not a determining factor, just one to consider. Finally, remember to smile! This is the talent and showmanship part of the competition.

After all of the preparation and the competition, I felt that being able to represent my state and now my country as a cultural ambassador was a wonderful culmination of myself, my family and my friends’ hard work and efforts. Passing on that heritage is important to myself and my family. Preparing for the state level and national level competitions, I also discovered a connection between my heritage and my chosen career field. I’ve discovered that Czechs and Slovaks have been prominent in science and engineering. Czechs and Slovaks have pioneered medical research, created drugs and treatments for diseases like AIDS and HIV. And even invented things like soft contact lenses and sugar cubes.

One time that I will always remember is the evening right after I was crowned. In Wilber, I walked with my family into Sokol Hall. The whole hall started cheering, it felt almost as loud at Memorial Stadium. It was a very enjoyable, family-centric time and to me that is what shared heritage is all about: family.

For those individuals who are preparing for their pageant, who are excited about sharing their heritage, and who may now want to be a queen, remember that a crown and sash does not make a queen; it’s the heart inside you and the example you leave that make a queen.

I strongly encourage others to promote their heritage. If there is anyone who is interested, please feel free to reach out to me.

Meagan Kurmel
Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska 2014-2015
Miss Czech-Slovak US 2015-2016
missczechslovakus15@gmail.com
www.gofundme.com/missczskusa2015

**Photos by Mary Chavez of Mary Chavez Photography

I hope you enjoyed Miss Meagan’s perspective! If you missed last week, read about Michaela Steager’s experiences as Nebraska queen here! And as always, leave a comment below or on the facebook page! I would love to hear from you!

Don’t Blink! It Will be Over too Soon!

Professional3I announced a couple weeks ago that I had a surprise and here it is! This is the first guest post from someone in the Czech community, Miss Michaela Steger. She is the reigning Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska and has an exciting story for you as she reflects back on her reign. Hope you like it!

Week after week I sit in the Doane KDNE Radio studio on Saturday mornings, listening to absolutely incredible and heartwarming music. Nothing of Adele, or other current pop stars, but something that is far more meaningful to my life, my past, and my future. Saturday mornings I work as the Producer for the Česka Muzika Polka show, where I get to reflect on my beautiful Czech-Slovak heritage through music. The hosts get on the microphones, introduce themselves and add, “here with us, being our producer is Miss Michaela Steager, the 2015-2016 Nebraska Czech-Slovak Queen.”

That’s me! It is always so surreal to hear, even almost a year after my coronation. Ever since I was a little girl, all I have wanted to do is dance around in kroj, be a princess, and someday be a queen like all the older girls. I remember going to Clarkson year after year to watch the Prague Chapter Queens compete, and then at Wilber to watch them embrace and share their heritage with the entire community. Of course back then it was about the ‘pretty dresses,’ talents, and crowns. Just as I grew from a three year old running around saying, “Yuck say Mash!” my understanding of the Czech-Slovak heritage and pageants has evolved as well.

When I decided to run for the Nebraska Czechs of Prague Queen, I was running for my Grandparents. Most specifically, for my Grandpa Adolph Nemec who passed in 2013. He was one of the main reasons that my mother, aunts, and a cousin were Queens. Grandpa would always throw Czech words into our daily conversations, and you were guaranteed a “Spanem Bohem” when you left the farm house. Naturally, when I decided to run I was doing it in his memory and his legacy. My reign would be one that would focus on the history of my family, the history of the countries, and all the incredible stories that come along with it. I was no longer the little girl who asked queens if I could try on their tiara, or asked if they lived in a castle. I wasn’t worried about the title, the sash, or the crown. I set out to travel and learn as much as I possibly could, I wanted to tell my stories, learn different takes on Czech-Slovak customs across our country, and touch as many lives as possible.

Clarkson was coming up and I was nervous. Not for talking on stage in front of hundreds of people, or falling during my talent, I was nervous for making my family proud of me. I knew that regardless of the results I would continue to do what I had been doing, that a title did not decide how I would live and help promote my heritage. This is what got me through the pageant, or as I like to call it, our heritage preservation program. Every chance I had to be around my family, I took it. Whether it was for a hug, a bottle of water, a laugh, or a polka, I wanted to be as close to my family as I could that day. That’s why we do what we do, for family. This program, and these events would not have been a glimmer in anyone’s imagination without the history of our families. We owe it to our ancestors and those still with us to carry on the traditions they laid before us. That is the foundation of my reign, not a title, or for parade candy, but family.

As I sit here with a little more than two months of my reign remaining, I have no regrets. I accomplished everything I set out to do. I am so happy and proud to say that I have made friends all across the country to help with my future adventures From Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Chicago, and even Washington D.C. I know I have gained so much support and love. There are no words for this community. To be able to walk into a room and have someone ask if they can take your picture, only to have a conversation and find out your ancestors lived five miles away from each other 100 years ago, gives me the most heartwarming pride.

That night in Clarkson, I was told to not blink, because this adventure would pass quicker than my heart could handle. I laughed and reassured everyone that I would soak in every second, which I did, but I also blinked. I am so very happy and envious of these new chapter queens who will be contending for this title at the end of June. I’m excited to pass on my knowledge and passion to not only the next Nebraska Queen, but all the queens after her; I just wish I had more time! Of course, once a Nebraska Queen always a Nebraska Queen, and my journey is far from being over.

With a job offer in the Czech Republic, a Study Abroad planned, and of course the Miss Czech-Slovak U. S. Pageant, I am continuing to submerge myself into this beautiful history. Every single one of us has a different story for why we do what we do, and I can’t wait to hear the stories of the other state queens in Wilber in August. Keeping in touch with some of the other girls, and watching their journeys over Facebook, I have complete faith that the future of our heritage is in good hands.

If you liked what you read, you can get to know Michaela a little better here! Or Czech her out on the Facebook page!

**Images by Dana Meduna

A Call to Action

megaphoneAhoj Pratele! As promised, this post is a preview for my article in the Czech Slavnosti which goes to print this Thursday May 5th. I don’t want to give too much away, but I would like to elaborate on a part of what I wrote. In the article I gave the Czech community a call to action. I asked that everyone get involved, not only to participate, but also to promote and preserve the culture for future generations. This is so important to me because becoming a part of the Czech community and the opportunities that I’ve had because of it changed my life!

When I started college, I thought I was going to get my teaching degree and then teach music until I retired. I had other goals, but the plan was to teach. I had no idea that I would study abroad, be a Czech queen, play in a Dudy band, or be writing this blog. None of these defining moments in my life would’ve happened if I wasn’t involved in the Czech community.

I want you to have some of the same experiences I did. I want you to know what a Czech brass band sounds like and what it feels like to dance a polka versus a waltz. I want you to taste Czech food and know that there is more than just kolache, dumplings, and pork. I want you to see the beautiful sights, whether that be the landscape of the Czech Republic or the queens in their kroje. I want you to know where you came from, who your ancestors were, and what that means to you. But even more than all that, I want you to share it.

The following is a quote from my article in the Slavnosti: “A vital part of preservation is making sure every generation is involved, that there are relevant activities for all ages, and that we learn why being Czech is important.” Part of what makes going to festivals and being a part of the Czech community is the people that are there with you. For me, those people are my grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins, mom, and all the friends I’ve met.

My cousin Caroline was at every event with me throughout my three years as reigning queen. For the first part, she was queen assistant, an honorary role I gave her since I didn’t have a princess. She rode with me in parades, helped tote my things around, and was my partner in crime. The second half, she got to be Lincoln princess and had to share her role with the Lincoln queen. We grew even closer by sharing those experiences and it will always be something we share, especially when she is old enough to be queen and I have to tote her things around 😉

As I’m writing this I’m looking forward to Sunday May 1st, the Lincoln Czech Festival. This will be the first time this season that my family will be there. I love going and talking to people, performing, being an ambassador, but most of all sharing the experience with my family. We will get to sit and talk over Czech food and dance too! These experiences add another level to our relationship, we are not just family, we share a culture and community. There are few people who get to experience their heritage this way. I hope you will share your Czech heritage with your friends and family and see how it can widen your experience and strengthen your relationships.
To read my article in the Slavnosti, please go to www.czechslavnosti.com and click subscription. There is a wealth of knowledge on everything Czech including an extensive list of all the upcoming festivals and events. If you have questions or want to know more, I would love to hear from you below in the comments or on Facebook.

Lena and I

imageThis will be the last week for Friday Follies. Starting next week and for the remainder of May, I have guest posts from people in the Czech community for you! I thought it might be fun to get different insights from others like me who are a part of the Czech community through the queen pageants, festivals, music, and more! I hope you will like it!

For this last post, I wanted to show Lena and I together! I figured that you’ve seen her with grandpa, Jordan, her furry friends, and in all her favorite places, so it was about time that I show off our unique relationship. As you may have read in my first Friday follies post, Lena has been part of our family since she was four weeks old and she is a huge part of the family (that may have been a smal pun on her weight, sorry Lena).

Miss Lenka Lou and I do basically everything together, even if I don’t want her help 😉 She likes to help me write my posts or participate in my art projects. If there has been too much time between the last time I pet her or gave her attention, she will tell me. Often when I get home late and am starving, I will make food at sit at the kitchen table to eat. If she cannot sit next to me on the chair, Lena will rub against my legs and yell at me. She is a little needy.

If Lena is not laying on daddy’s feet and annoying him while he sleeps, she is lying on top of me. She will literally lie in any nook or cranny she can find, the more uncomfortable it makes me, the better. Just last night, she crawled up and laid on my chest like a ton of bricks. When I moved her after I couldn’t fall asleep, she transferred herself to my hips. What a thoughtful cat!

Lena has this thing where she sleeps on or around my face too. When she was a baby, she would sleep on the back of my neck, under my hair, to keep warm. She is not a small kitten anymore and playing scarf is not my favorite activity. She also used to spend a lot of time in the sleeves of my shirts, my dad’s cargo pockets, and in my hoodies (like the photo above). I do love the snuggles, but sometimes it’s too much!

Where are some of the interesting places your animals sleep? Drop me a line below or on Facebook! Let me know what you thought of Friday Follies! I hope you’ve gotten to know me and Lena a little more 😉

Exciting News

slav1I have some exciting news for you! Coming in May there will be a series of guest posts from people in the Czech community. I am so happy to have them share their experiences with you and it will be fun to see another’s perspective! I will give you two hints: one is the current Nebraska Queen and the other is the current National Queen! You will just have to wait to see who else will be showing up!

Another exciting thing is that you will soon get to see more work outside of the blog. A couple weeks ago, right after I published the post about the struggles I faced as a Czech Queen I received a message from Steve Ouřecký. He wanted to know if he could print some of my posts in the Czech Slavnosti, and of course, I said yes! I even offered to start a new column for him.

If you don’t know, the Czech Slavnosti is a print newspaper for the Czech-American Communities. It started in Wilber, Nebraska as a supplement to the Wilber Republican in 2008and is now under the ownership of Mr. Ouřecký. He does an incredible job of making sure that everyone is up to date on upcoming events and important things happening both here in the states, but also in the Czech Republic.

My article for the Slavnosti will be published in the May/June edition, so be on the lookout for it! I might have to give you a little sneak peek here soon! In the meantime, Czech out some of these recent posts on the Czech community:

What are some topics that you would like to see me write about in the Slavnosti? Or even here on the blog? Let me know below or on the Facebook page!

Minnesota Jealousy

minnesotaIt tears at me to write this. Though it’s something I have thought about a lot, there is something more final and real about putting the thoughts into words on a page. So here it is: I wish I was living in Minnesota.

Don’t get me wrong, at any given time that sentence has said: I wish I was living in the Czech Republic. The destination changes from Texas to Oklahoma, Illinois to DC, anywhere there is a thriving Czech community.

Nebraska is supposed to house the Czech capital of the US. It sounds like such a glorious title, but it can be just that, a title. Wilber is a place filled with people of Czech decent. But, there is the problem, we are the descendants. Many of the people who live here have not been to the homeland, and of those that have, many have only seen it as a tourist.

Nebraska has many wonderful Czech traditions, but because our families have been here so long, those traditions have become very Americanized. We are a community that is split up, modern, and idealistic. We want the Nebraska Czech traditions to continue, but they have become stagnant and are not very welcoming to the new generations who will become the keepers of the heritage.

That is why I said I wish I was living in Minnesota. Just a few days ago the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic came to the US, to Minnesota. The people who live in and around Montgomery, MN participate in many Czech traditions including Masopust, Sváty Mikulaš, and traditional dances and music. I just watched a video on Facebook of the male dancers doing a traditional number called the Furiant and it reminded me of the hody or festivals I had been to in the Czech Republic

The video made me happy to see the traditions, but also sad and angry that we don’t have that here. I want to participate in the dance groups and attend the special events. These experiences give more options to my generation and those that will follow. Unfortunately, I cannot do it all alone, I need help.

If you agree, let me know! Maybe we can work together to make that our heritage will continue to live on.

Nebraska Czechs: Chapters, Festivals, and Queens

NECzechslogoWhen I first became a Czech queen, I scoured the internet trying to find information about chapter and event dates. I searched everything I could, but struggled to find the information I needed. I wanted to put together this resource for you, so you don’t have the same problems. I hope it is useful 😉

The Nebraska Czechs

The association for the Czechs of Nebraska was formed on May 11, 1963 after the success of the first Dwight, Wilber, and Omaha Czech festivals. They became known as the Nebraska Czechs Incorporated and encouraged each community to form their own local organizations, which became known as chapters. The following list is the year each chapter joined according to the Nebraska Czechs website:

1963 Dwight
1963 Wilber
1963 Schuyler
1964 Omaha Czech Cultural Club
1964 Komensky Club- UNL
1970 Saunders County
1971 Fremont
1972 Sokol South Omaha
1973 Lincoln
1976 South Central
19xx Butler County
19xx Clarkson
1980 Panhandle
19xx Sokol Omaha
19xx Prague
2002 York

Today, the list of chapters has shortened from 16 to 11, with each chapter annually hosting a festival or event and crowning a queen to compete at the State Pageant. Nebraska is the only state that has chapter contestants that compete at the state pageant. While other states have candidates that can represent a certain area or group, they do not have a unified state organization like the Nebraska Czechs.

Each chapter is unique not only in their location, but also their history, community, and people. Czech people have been a part of the story of Nebraska since it became a state, and the residents stay connected to their community and heritage through their chapters and festivals. Here is a little information about each chapter and when they have their festivals.

Chapters and Festivals

The Nebraska Czechs of Wilber is the oldest, consistently running chapter in Nebraska. The chapter usually includes the surrounding areas of Crete and Clatonia and in 1965 officially became the Czech Capital of the United States.  This means that it is the most well-known Czech community in the States and the host of the Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant. It is also the location of a wealth of knowledge about the Czech communities via the Dvoracek Memorial Library and Wilber Czech Museum. Wilber has beseda dancers and an alumni band that perform at almost every event, usually held at the Wilber Sokol. There is also a historic hotel in Wilber that has stood since 1895.

Wilber crowns its queen the third Friday in March every year and the Wilber festival and National Pageant is the first weekend in August. This year it is August 5-7.

The Omaha Czech Cultural Club is the second oldest and only remaining Omaha chapter.  The Omaha chapter was known for its Sokol or gymnastics program and was housed in an area called Little Bohemia because of its large Czech population. Omaha is still home to the Bohemian Café, a Czech restaurant serving all the hearty flavors of the homeland.

Until last year, the Omaha festival was located at the Sokol Auditorium. Now the festival and crowning is the third Sunday in April at the Millard Social Hall. This year it falls on April 17th.

The Nebraska Czechs of Lincoln is the third oldest chapter and located in the capital city. Lincoln was home to the Capital City Czech Choraliers, a Czech chorus consisting mostly of Lincoln members, that disbanded in the early 2000s. The Lincoln Czechs work closely with the University’s Czech programs including the Komensky Club, the Czech Language Foundation, and Robitschek Scholars. They also have a strong connection to the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International and the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences.

The Lincoln Czechs hold their festival and crowning the first Sunday in May. This year it is May 1st.

The Nebraska Czechs of South Central are located in Hastings, Nebraska and includes the area of Adams County. The South Central Czechs have a grand festival each year with lots of music, kolache, and queen talent.

The South Central Festival and crowning is the first Saturday in June. This year the festival is on June 4th.

The Nebraska Czechs of Butler County are located in David City, Nebraska and includes the towns of Bruno, Abie, Linwood, and Brainard. Dwight is also a city in Butler County, but because they have your own festival and thriving community, they have formed their own chapter. Abie is the home of Abie’s Place, a local bar and restaurant with a counter full of kolache and live polka bands every Friday.

The Butler County Czechs crown their queen the third Sunday in March. They do not have festival, but have many local events.

The Nebraska Czechs of Clarkson were established in the late 1970’s and are home to the Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska Pageant. The town of Clarkson is home to the Clarkson Czech museum, opera house, and beseda dancers. During festival weekend, the entire town and surrounding areas put on a huge festival filled with music, food, and culture. The pageant is the focus Saturday evening and showcases all of the Nebraska Czech Queens. On Sunday there is a polka mass at the Catholic Church and parade that winds through most of the town.

The Clarkson Czechs crown their queen the last Thursday in February. The Clarkson Czech Festival is the third weekend in June. This year the festival will be on June 24-26.

The Nebraska Czechs of the Panhandle are located in Sidney, Nebraska and includes the western most part of our state. The panhandle include Alliance, Chadron, Kimbal, and Scottsbluff.

The Panhandle Czechs hold their festival and crowning the last Saturday in September at the Lodgepole Community Center in Lodgepole, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Czechs of Prague are located in Saunders County in the Bohemian Alps of Nebraska and were formed in the late 80’s- early 90’s. Prague is named after the capital of the Czech Republic and is home to the Worlds Largest Kolache. The town bar and restaurant, Kolache Korner is known for its great Czech food and has always been family owned.

The Prague Czechs have their festival the third Saturday in September. This year their festival is on September 25th.

The Nebraska Czechs of York is the newest chapter to join, almost 40 years after the formation of the Nebraska Czechs Incorporated. Despite being the youngest chapter, the York Czechs work hard to keep the Czech heritage going in York. They have brought giant Czech puppets from the Czech Republic, featured an exhibit on “The Assassination of Nazi General Heydrich,” held many events for children at the York Library, and hosted the Consul General Lizec this last October.

The York Czechs usually crown their queen the third Thursday of March. Their festival is located at the York Convention Center the third Sunday in October. This year it will be held on October 16th.

The Komensky Club took a hiatus and rejoined the Nebraska Czechs Incorporated in 2013. The club was established in 1904, making it technically the oldest chapter, though not of the Nebraska Czechs. The club is named after Jan Amos Komensky, a Czech philosopher and bishop, who is the father of modern education. The Komensky Club works in cooperation with the Czech language department at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

The Komensky Club doesn’t hold a festival, but a series of events in March that is called Czech March. The final one is March 30th with a lecture on Czech history.

The Nebraska Czechs of Dwight were technically the first chapter back in 1963. After a break, the Dwight Czechs were reinstated in 2016. Though they are one of the smallest communities at 250 people, they still have a large festival and have beseda dancing with the Dwight Czech Dancers.

The Dwight Czechs have their festival and crown their royalty the last full weekend in July. This year it is held on July 30-31st.

Queens

If you are a queen and are looking for more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I will be posting a 2016 events list soon and continuing to post about my experiences and stuff you need to know as a queen.

Here are a couple recent posts to Czech out in the mean time:

P.S. I am sorry that this article is so long! I know it is a lot of information, very quickly, but I hope you have learned something and found it helpful! Let me know what you thought of this post. Do you have anything to add? Questions? Comment below or on the Facebook page.

 

The Secret Struggles of a Czech Queen

imageOne of the first concerns I hear when I’m talking to someone about becoming a Czech Queen is time commitment. My response is “how much time do you want to commit?” Some chapters here in Nebraska ask for you to go to a certain amount of festivals or events. Some ask you to come to their festival and anything else is up to you.

For me, once I started going to festivals and got involved, I was hooked. I spent more time as a state queen traveling then as a national queen, because as a state queen the events were local and for nationals I tried to visit other states and different types of Czech communities. The amount of time you spend is really up to you, but the the more things you go to, the more you will experience and learn.

The concern of time was followed closely by insecurity and the uncertainty of being able to succeed at each category that the contestants compete in. This is hard because you will show your skills in speaking and charisma, talent, knowledge of Czech history, culture, and traditions, and folk costumes. This is a lot to absorb at first and can be intimidating, but even with minimal previous knowledge, everything can be learned and anyone who puts in the effort can succeed.

I want to share a secret with you: during my three years as a reigning Czech queen I went through many seasons of change. In each of these seasons I struggled with something new on top of learning the ins and outs of being a Czech queen.

1. SPRING: I was crowned chapter queen in March during student teaching. It was really hard for me to even carve out time to make it to my own coronation while I was student teaching. I had very demanding teachers and I was co-directing the musical. There was no time for sleep, let alone time to start something new, but I just felt I needed to do it.

2. SPRING: I prepared for state while student teaching. The Nebraska pageant is the second week of June and school didn’t get out until the last week of May. Oh, and I planned my graduation party during this time 😉

3. SUMMER: I spent the entire summer traveling. Every weekend I went to a new festival or parade. It was a blast to meet all the interesting people and experience how the culture and traditions are different from place to place. It was also eye opening because I never knew that these events and culture existed in the small areas around eastern Nebraska or that there were communities in the surrounding states.

4. FALL: I spent the Fall of my state reign in studying abroad in Brno, Czech Republic. This was the best decision I ever made. It was hard to be away from home for family events, but I had so many incredible experiences. I made friends from around the world. I learned more about the culture and myself in my six months abroad than I did in the entirety of my college experience.

5. WINTER: My return home the week of Christmas was a rough transition. I was thrilled to see my family and spend the holidays with them, but once I had to settle back into life here I was incredibly unhappy. I missed everything about living in Europe from my friends, to my classes, to the atmosphere of Brno, the ability to travel, and the culture I was immersed in. It hurt how much I missed living in the Czech Republic and when I returned it felt like a part of me was missing.

6. SPRING: My fiancé of six years and I broke up and I decided to return to the Czech Republic. I spent most of May and a week of June back in Brno. I couch surfed and met with all my friends. I stayed with a friend who was living in southern Bohemia for a week while I started research on a Fulbright program and returned just in time to pass on my crown to the next Nebraska queen.

7. SUMMER: In August I was crowned 1st runner up at nationals. It was really hard for me to get everything after I came home from the Czech Republic. I spent most of the spring making my costume and the summer practicing facts and my talent, but I did it almost completely on my own. I was working full time, and the frustration of handling all this alone is something I don’t want to see anyone else go through.

8. FALL: I started dating my now husband at Nationals. We started seeing each other over the summer, but nationals weekend we made it official.

9. WINTER- SPRING: I really struggled raising funds to travel during my reign. There is not a lot of funds for the queens to travel and the year I was crowned the pageant had a crisis and almost didn’t make the crowning gifts. So, I wanted to travel around the Midwest to experience the other pageants and festivals and it took almost all of my savings to do so. It was worth it. Everyone was really helpful in offering their homes and meals to help make it happen, but it was hard.

10. SUMMER: My last summer as a reigning queen I started helping on the Nebraska pageant committee and gave my crown away in August. It was an odd transition from being a queen to being a “has been.” I have a passion to help other queens get started and to experience all the cool things I did without having to struggle with the same things, so I started mentoring. Three months later I started planning my wedding.

I know it may seem daunting at first to become a Czech queen. Over the seasons of your reign you may go through some of the same struggles. There will be a time commitment and you may feel insecure at times, but know that there will be others who are going through the same struggles and many people who want to help you, including me!

When I was first asked to apply I had very little knowledge of the Czech community and had never been to a festival, but just three months later I was crowned Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska, so it’s possible!
I hope you found this article helpful! I would love to hear about the seasons of your reign or any of your concerns starting out! Comment below or go to the MyCzechList Facebook page and tell me your thoughts.

How I Rescued my Kitten from a Czech Festival

photoLast week I posted that I was going to start a weekly post on Fridays. My husband suggested that I tell the story of our cat, Lenka, and how I rescued her.

The picture of the adorable kitten is Lena (one of the many variations of her name). I didn’t get her from a shelter or off the streets, but from a Czech festival.

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The day I brought Lena home

The second weekend in June is the Miss Nebraska Czech-Slovak Pageant. In 2013, I had completed my reign and was handing off my crown. The weekend went as planned, except I cried during the farewell speech… Oops! I even had a visitor where I stayed; the tiniest black and white kitten.

She followed me around all weekend like a lost puppy. Whenever I was at the house she was there, waiting to be held and snuggled. She was about four weeks old, with no mother in sight, and tar covered her fur. I was told she probably came from the neighbor’s house, but I had not seen her fed or given water the three days we were there.

imageOn Sunday evening, as we were packing to leave, the kitten appeared again from her hiding place under the neighbor’s car. She was so little, and wanting love and affection that I couldn’t help myself. I scooped her up and drove away.

She is a part of our crazy family, and I’m still glad I rescued her that hot, summer day.