Czech & Slovak community celebrates 22nd annual festival Sunday

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Czech & Slovak Sokol Minnesota will host its 22nd annual Czech and Slovak Festival on Sunday, September 18from 11:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m. at the St. Paul Highland Park Pavilion.  Designated a “West End Czech Slovak festival,” the celebration will include food and entertainment for young and old alike: “made-from-scratch” booya (sit down or order to go), ethnic sausages, beers and other traditional foods, family activities, folk cultural music and dance performances, and many informational and vendor booths to visit. 

  Czech and Slovak Sokol grew out of an international movement founded in 1862 by Dr. Miroslav Tyrs which focused on social, cultural, educational and athletic/gymnastic enrichment.  “Sokol” – the falcon, symbolizes strength, swiftness and vigor, ideals of Sokol programs.

Louise Wessinger, program director of the festival as well as the St. Paul Czech and Slovak Folk Dancers, stated that thousands of Kolache, a traditional sweet pastry, are made at the Czech and Slovak CSPS Hall (Cesko Slovanský Podporující Spolek, or Czech Slovak Protective Society) for the event.  “They are one of my favorites.”

The event will feature traditional and contemporary Czech and Slovak music and performances by the Saint Paul Czech and Slovak Folk Dancers as well as children and teens folk dance groups.  Wessinger stated that authentic food, culture, music and dance remain the big draws to this event over the years and sets it apart from other festivals.  “All are welcome,” she stated.  It has historically been a late summer/early fall event year after year. 

Sokol Minnesota seeks to promote and actively preserve Minnesota’s Czech and Slovak immigration heritage.  Its focal center for Sokol activities is the CSPS Hall located at 383 Michigan Street, which has maintained its historic location since its construction in 1887. The Hall was declared a National and State Historic Site in 1977 and is the longest serving Czech-Slovak cultural center in the United States.  It stages theatre productions, cultural activities and has a display area, restaurant and gift shop.  The Hall can also be rented for events.