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Oklahoma Czech Junior Dancers wait to perform at 1998 festival
Oklahoma Czech Junior Dancers wait to perform at the 33rd Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival, 1998. Photo courtesy Yukon Review

Oklahoma Czech Festival

This Yukon celebration of Old World traditions is held annually on the first Saturday in October. During the festival, a Czech mass is celebrated at Saint John Nepomuk Catholic Church, traditional foods, such as kolache and klobasy are served, a Czech Queen pageant is held, and folk musicians and dancers wearing traditional Czech dress perform.

Yukon was founded in the late 1800s with a diverse population that included many Czechs. As 1966, the 75th anniversary of Yukon, approached, the mayor wanted to celebrate the occasion with a citywide event. Two Czech-style lodges agreed to sponsor the affair, which provided the celebration's Czech ambiance. Women of Czechoslovakian ethnicity baked kolache (Czech pastries) and stored them in freezers until the festival on October 15, which coincided with the St. Havel Festival in Czechoslovakia. Maria Fiala, who baked 600 dozen kolache, was designated Kolache Queen. A parade with fifty floats was viewed by 10,000 people. Souvenirs, including dolls in traditional dresses and embroidered tea towels, were created by Czech-Americans and sold along Main Street. Yukon High School art students painted the windows of businesses on Main Street with Czech designs. This first festival was so successful that Oklahoma-Czechs made it an annual event. Since then crowds of up to 55,000 people attend the Oklahoma Czech festival-the largest free festival in the state.

Documentation includes a report and 16 photos.

Originally submitted by: James M. Inhofe, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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