Kolaches are baking, the beer garden is set up and local businesses are preparing for the 58th annual Wilber Czech Festival.
Clad in traditional, handmade dance clothing, the Wilber Czech Dancers and the Wilber Jr. Czech Dancers performed a handful of pieces for residents at the Wilber Care Center.
The performance also worked as a practice before the five shows they’ll do during the festival.
Jessica Zoubek, a volunteer whose kids perform with the dancers, said there’s over 100 people in the two groups from ages 2-20.
The groups meet for an hour each week to practice, then travel to local nursing homes to perform.
Zoubek said the groups are free to join, as long as each person has an outfit to wear for Czech Days.
Wilber mayor Roger Chrans said the Czech Capital of the United States has three days of “oldies but goodies” returning to the festival, like the multiple bands and the Miss Czech-Slovak U.S. Pageant.
The festivities begin with a pre-festival celebration Thursday, Aug. 1 with an evening beer garden and free dance at Hotel Wilber from 7:30-11:30 p.m.
Then on Friday, Aug. 2, the Czech Cultural Center is hosting Czech bingo, an art show and a Czech singalong.
Several shows are planned through the evening, with the Accordion Jamboree in the outdoor theater from 5-6:30 p.m., the Wilber Alumni Dancers at the Bandstand at 6:45 p.m., the Little Tavern Band at the T.J. Sokol Hall from 7-11 p.m., the Wilber Czech Dancers in the outdoor theater from 8-9:30 p.m., the Barry Boyce band from Omaha at the Hotel Wilber from 8p.m.-close and the Leo Lonnie Trio at the Fox Hole from 9 p.m. to midnight.
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There will also be a children’s parade on Main Street starting at 7 p.m., and Tales of the Czechs in the outdoor theater at 9:30 p.m.
On Saturday Aug. 3, a duck and dumpling run will kick off the day’s events at Third and Wilson at 7:30 a.m. A sand volleyball tournament at the Legion Park starts at 8 a.m., followed by a Legion breakfast buffet until noon.
The American Legion Post 101 and the Wilber-Clatonia high school band will hold a flag raising ceremony at the post office at 1 p.m., followed by a parade at 2 p.m. celebrating this year’s theme “100 years of the American Legion."
The grand marshal for the festival is Brett Reistad, the National Commander of The American Legion
“We are very proud that we’re helping celebrate that within our celebration,” Chrans said.
The outdoor theater will have events throughout the evening, with a program introduction at 3:15 p.m. by Nebraska Czechs of Wilber president Larry Shestak and Mayor Chrans, followed by a talent contest from 3:30-5 p.m., the Wilber Junior Czech Dancers from 5:15-6:15 p.m. and the Miss Czech-Slovak U.S. Pageant at 7 p.m.
The Catholic Church is hosting breakfast Sunday, Aug. 4 from 7:15-11:15 a.m. The Dvoracek Library will have a mini lesson in Czech with Mila Saskova-Pierce at 10 a.m. Another flag-raising ceremony and parade will take place at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.
The Wilber Alumni Band is celebrating their 34th year with concerts throughout the weekend, including the Saturday and Sunday parades.
A kolache eating contest is scheduled at 5 p.m. at the bandstand, followed by a Wilber Chamber of Commerce drawing. The events will conclude with a dance contest, the Miss Czech-Slovak U.S. Pageant and the Dave Saloman Polka Band.
A full list of events and a map of locations can be found at nebraskaczechsofwilber.com