Czech Fest returns to Yukon for 53rd year

Kolaches. More than 28,000 of the fruity, chewy delights will be available Saturday, rain or shine.

That’s the word from Marjorie Jezek, who chairs the 53rd annual Oklahoma Czech Festival.

Early weather forecasts are calling for a possibility of rain on Saturday. Jezek said she is holding out hope that the rains will wait until after the festivities are complete. Either way, the festival will go on.

“We hold the festival rain or shine,” Jezek said.

It’s a tradition.

Jezek said weather has never stopped the annual festival, which celebrates all things Czech-Slovak.

And among the highlights of the festival are the ooey, gooey Czech-style treats that are only available once a year at the festival.

Between July 5 and the end of August, volunteers made more than 28,000 kolaches. They range in flavor from cream cheese to cherry, apple and even prune. In all, there are more than a dozen flavors.

She expects they will sell out quickly.

“I know we sold out of kolaches last year before the parade was over,” Jezek said. “There are a lot of people who don’t get them, but we can’t help that.”

This year, they will be sold individually or by the half-dozen, which is a change from previous years.  They also are being sold in solid flavors versus multiple flavors in the same bag.

A half-dozen of the kolaches will cost $8, while a dozen is $15.

“They are fruit-filled, authentic Czech recipe. It is a Czech dessert,” she said.

For those who want something a little more substantial, the festival will feature its Czech lunch, which includes authentic Kabalse, beans, sauerkraut, and rye bread. The meal is $15.

The lunch tent will open at 9 a.m.

And there will be … beer. It is a recipe that is brewed specifically for the festival.

The festivities get underway Saturday morning in downtown Yukon. Most of the activities will be held between Third and Sixth streets with booths opening around 9 a.m.

The activities will continue throughout the day until about 4:15 p.m. when the winners of the 2018 Czech Royalty Pageant will be announced.

One of the major highlights of the day will be the annual Czech Day Parade, which begins at 10 a.m. near the corner of Garth Brooks Boulevard and Main Street.

There are more than 114 entries in this year’s parade.

“It looks like a long parade, and it is. It will end up with Santa Claus at the end of the parade,” she said.

In between, there will music, food booths and traditional dancing, said Jezek.

“It is the largest free festival in Oklahoma. It brings in a lot of people,” she said.

Officials expect around 30,000 people to enjoy the day, Jezek said.

There are 166 craft booths planned, along with 30 food vendors.

In all, she said, there will be more than 200 vendors.

Entertainment includes music from the Magic Music Machine, the Masopust Polka Band, the Ceska Beseda and the Bohemian Knights.

There also will be traditional dances including Czech Folk Dancing and Moravian Dancing.

There also will be a carnival, which kicks off the events Friday at 6 p.m.

Jezek said the festival is special.

“This keeps our heritage and our culture alive,” she said.

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