Vegetables and jellies have been canned, homemade noddles are bagged and the menu has been finalized for a traditional Czech meal at the 8th Annual Dozinky Harvest Festival. The event is taking place tomorrow, Oct. 13, noon - 5 p.m. at the Taiton Community Center. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m.
The Wharton County Czech Heritage Society is responsible for the annual event, which, according to their president, Danny Hughes, is unique in that it celebrates Czech culture with the traditional Dozinky.
“We (Wharton County Czech Heritage Society) are the only one in Texas that puts on a Czech harvest ... Dozinky means harvest festival,” Hughes said.
Eight years ago the group decided to hold just one fundraiser during the year that would bring in proceeds for scholarships and other community projects to donate to.
“This yearly fest was begun when Edith Molberg was president of our society and we needed a fundraiser,” reporter Barbara Milder said. “It was suggested by Bill Raley and Danny Hughes who had attended similar fests in the Czech Republic.”
“We were looking for some kind of fundraiser ... we were already doing plates two times a year,” Hughes added. “So Bill and I came up with the idea. So we do one fundraiser only and it does fairly well.”
According to Hughes, the event is typically attended by 200-300 and brings in anywhere from $2,000 - $3,000. After expenses, the group presents scholarships to Wharton County graduating seniors. They don’t have to be a relative of the group or of Czech descent, but they do have to fill out an application form and submit an essay.
“The annual event supports various projects such as scholarships to graduating seniors from any school in Wharton County and the annual Miss Texas Czech Slovak Queen’s contest which will be held in New Taiton in February,” Milder said. “We also make donations to the Taiton Community Center and the Texas Czech Heritage Center in La Grange and support the National Queen’s contest in Wilber, Neb.”
For this event, members will be manning the country store, which will be stocked with 70-80 different canned goods and homemade noodles made by Hughes and Raley.
“We have our own garden,” Hughes said. Neighbors also contribute their over abundance of produce.
“I was taught not to waste anything,” Hughes said. “So they will ask us ‘can you use it?’”
In addition to the Czech meal, there will be plenty of sweets and homemade Czech kolaches for sale.
A Czech-style harvest festival would not be complete without Polka music by the Czechaholics.
“The Texas Czech Heritage & Cultural Center in La Grange will have a booth to browse,” Milder said.
Also, the West High School Junior Historians will be performing from 12:30 - 1:20 p.m.
“They will do traditional Czech folk dances in their colorful Czech kroj outfits,” Milder said.
There will be a special guest appearance by the Czech Queen from Williamson County. Currently, the Wharton County Czech Heritage Society is looking for a queen to represent their group. The contestant must be of Czech descent and 16-24 years of age.
“The contestant must be of some kind of Czech background,” Hughes added.
Admission to the festival is $5 for adults and those under the age of 18 are free of charge.