Checking In at the Wilber Czech Festival

Despite our best efforts to stay on top of all accordion-related festivals, one occasionally slips in under the radar. Fortunately, the Lincoln Journal Star has an excellent recap of last weekend’s Wilber Czech Festival in tiny Wilber, Nebraska (“Czech Capital of the USA”).

The 46th annual festival drew close to 45,000 people (to a town of only 1,700) for a weekend of Czech food (mmm… kolaches), polka music and dancing, and an accordion jamboree. Check out the accompanying audio slideshow to hear Charlie Keller, president of the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber, talk about the culture of the Wilber Czech Festival.

Wilber Czech FestivalNebraska Czech Queen Shandra Korbelik, 18, plays the accordion

All My Ex’s Polka in Texas

Looking for a place to polka this Labor Day? Try the 31st annual Westfest — a Czech/Polka festival held every Labor Day weekend — currently underway in West, Texas. Westfest draws about 25,000 people annually and has most of what you’d expect from a typical polka festival, including nonstop polka music and dancing (bands include Vrazels Polka Band and Brave Combo), great food, a parade, and even a polka mass.

But how many polka festivals have a horseshoe pitching contest? Or washer pitching and Taroky tournaments? The food sounds even better; they promise plentiful Czech sausage (“sausage-on-a-stick, sausage dogs… even sausage boats”) and the town of West is famous for their kolaches, a Czech pastry consisting of fruit or cheese filling inside a bread roll. (By the way, I love that there’s a restaurant chain called Kolache Factory; it’s like the anti-Cheesecake Factory.) Mmm… polkas and kolaches… now that’s a Labor Day weekend.