Camp Cornerstone (CC) is our church’s name for the traditional Vacation Bible School that most churches put together every Summer. This year the CC theme is Kingdom Rock. I was happy about this because it gave me an opportunity to … Continue reading
Haven’t posted in quite a while. Been busy as usual. See above for just a few of the things I have been up to.
First, let me just share a video of what we experienced this last week. See those white dots? Those are Hail Softballs!! This storm totaled at least one of our cars, took out both front windshields and completely obliterated the … Continue reading
The National Polka Festival (NPF) in Ennis, Texas has been in existence for as long as I have, 45 years. This has always made the event seem even more special to me and has been one of the many reasons I have tried so hard to return to the festival of the celebration of my heritage every year. Slowly, over time, the many reasons for making the trek back to Dallas have dwindled down to just a handful. I still love the music of my childhood and don’t think I will ever tire of dancing and singing the Czech tunes.
This year, the visit to Dallas was different in a lot of ways. For the first time, I took a good look at the reasons for visiting this particular festival. When I was growing up, we went to the NPF to visit with family and friends. As any good Czech, Catholic family would be, my extended family was (is) huge. I can remember many cousins, god-parents, grand-parents, aunts and uncles, all visiting and enjoying the atmosphere that felt so familiar complete with the food, beer, music, and dancing. As time has gone by, many of the cousins have moved on. Some of my grand-parents have passed away and some of them don’t care to come anymore. My mother, the 100% Czech part of the family, has passed on and my God-mother, who was always the anchor of the dancing part of my family had a stroke a few years back and is in a home, not doing well, from what I’ve been told.
This year, the festival was fun, as it always is. However, that is the interesting thing, this year, Scott and I realized that the NPF is always the same. We always arrive the same day, go to the same venues, see the same art vendors downtown and the same bands in the halls. The parade never changes and the menu at the dance-halls, although contains some authentic Czech fare, has not changed in at least 10 years. Seriously, the menu consists of Barbeque Beef & Klobase, Parsley Potatoes, Green Beans (not sure what is Czech about that), Sauerkraut (German?), and Czech Pastries (Kolaches). If you stay until Sunday, you get Pork Roast and Dumplings (Knedliky). The tunes played are now 50% Czech and 50% Country and Western. The one new thing the festival did this year was bring in a magician, yes, that is right, a magician, to entertain. I think it was this last development that actually sealed our decision (see below). Although we had a good time, we will not be attending the NPF for several years to come. Perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am actually impressed and pleased that the folks in Ennis can still keep a folk festival alive in today’s culture and society. I know it is insanely difficult to reach the younger generation and I applaud them for trying to do things each year that will draw the younger crowd. See this post for more information on how the NPF folks could better reach the younger crowd. The beef I have with the management of this festival is that the young are being reached at the expense of the purity of the culture. My question is this: WHAT IS CZECH ABOUT A MAGICIAN??
My reasons for taking my money and time elsewhere are not only due to the festival changing, but due to out growing this festival and a desire to see how other Czechs hold their festivals in other parts of this country and beyond. Therefore, next year we will be heading for the Wilber Czech Festival in Wilber, Nebraska. In an effort to start a new tradition with the younger folks in our family and to try to carry on the Czech heritage, we have asked our kids and grand-kids to join us in Wilber, as well as my parents. All have agreed to wear costumes for the event. I will be making those and posting progress photos throughout the next year on this blog. It is nice to be excited again about attending a Czech festival. I am sure the festival in Wilber has many of the same issues, namely, familiarity to those who attend every year, but it will be new to us and we are looking forward to it.
Finally, I leave you with photos from this year’s festival. I do have a video of Scott and I dancing, but am working out a deal for cash to keep it from being posted. HaHa! As I said, we did have a good time, but also a reflective one. Enjoy ~ až později
The trip to the festival:
The King and Queen Competition:
Czech Musicians (one of these is my cousin:
Random photos of fun:
It means that it is time to prepare and go to the annual National Polka Festival, of course. This year I decided not to make new costumes. I will be doing that next year, hopefully for the whole family.
This year I decided to spruce up and adjust some of the current costume components. Starting with my red skirt that I made for the festival two years ago. This skirt had four huge bias panels in it and was ridiculously heavy to wear. After about 2 hours work, one of the panels is now removed and it is much lighter. When I made it I was unsure if there would be enough “swing” and so I put in the four panels. After wearing it at the 2009 festival, I realized that three would have still provided plenty of swing without weighing me down quite as much as I moved. So, the adjustment has been made. I’ll be adding a little bling here and there to the red and the purple costumes, ironing, and fluffing, etc. Then we pack them up and head out for the Memorial Day Weekend festivities in Ennis, TX. If you actually read this blog and are anywhere in the area (and are not a stalker) come to the festival and see if you can find us. Sort of a modern day “where’s Waldo”…
Quote of the week: “This is Serious!!” Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Things around here have been so crazy that I have been unable to post this years collection of images from the Polka Festival. Now that the mid-terms are over and the grandson has returned home I can finally turn my attention to more entertaining subjects. Ebby enjoyed the trip to Dallas.
The trip back was another story. There were three of us, Me, Scott, and our three year old grandson William in the front cab of our little truck for the 14 hour trip back home. Ebby lived in my lap the entire ride back. All is well though. We made it home without incident, unless you count the first hour in the truck when William turned to me and basically lost all his orange juice he had taken in before we left. It was a mess, but we survived.
This year my dad and I competed in the King and Queen Dance again. There were 21 couples competing this year and we didn’t even make it past the first cut. We had fun though and the couple who won were far superior dancers and will represent the festival well in the year to come.
Here is the video of our 2009, meager attempt at stardom…
On Saturday, we went to the parade as usual, but the parade was a huge disappointment this year. Not only did it start about an hour late because of an inadvertently parked train across the intersection, but there were bands included in the floats that had absolutely NOTHING with Czech heritage, except perhaps that the members were residents of the greater Ennis area. These bands were beyond metal in flavor and there was not a polka to be found. Sad, really. If Ennis wants to do something to promote the Polka Festival in the future they might want to try updating the website and begin thinking “nationally” again. They are, after all, the National Polka Festival. Ok, rant is over… The best part of the parade for me was seeing Ebby all decked out in her costume. She is truly a Czech/Mex dog! Ha Ha
We will not be attending this festival next year (or probably for a few years to come), mainly because we want to go visit some other festivals in other parts of the country. Now that I have my supply of costumes, we can dance in style throughout Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Ohio, to name a few. Stay tuned here for updates on our adventures to a polka festival near you.
I finally reached a point in my semester work where I could take a short break and work on something fun. My wonderful and talented husband agreed to do a photo shoot of me in my costume for this year’s Polka Festival. Every year I get nervous when the festival draws near thinking that my costume will not fit. So far, it has all been for naught. Here are some photos from the fun we had out on the property yesterday. Enjoy.
Well, it is time for my Dogs on Thursday post again and I have been promising photos of Ebby’s kroj. I made the pattern up from scratch and tried to make it match my costume as much as possible. It was a lot of fun to put together and made me think of sewing doll clothes. She is such a ham and she really doesn’t mind looking goofy for her mom. She will be attending the National Polka Festival with me in May and we will have photos. Until then here you go:
The first costume for the 2009 National Polka Festival is essentially finished. This is the costume that I will wear in this year’s King and Queen Dance Competition. I am so excited! There are still some tiny details (none noticeable to the camera) to be attended to, but I was dying to get this one up for you all to see. The men’s costume photos will be posted soon, and then, of course, there is Ebby’s costume. So, here are the photos. Enjoy.
Today I broke down and purchased a petticoat for my costume this year. I was browsing for a pattern for a petticoat (free, of course). You wouldn’t think they would be that hard to make, just a bunch of gathered tulle and some elastic…wrong. So, anyway, while I was browsing the internet for a pattern I found a site that had the exact petticoat I was looking for and it was less than half of what I would have had to pay for the materials alone! Here is what I purchased. Let’s hope it fits and doesn’t require any “modifications”.
Speaking of costumes, I am almost finished with my shirt for this year and finished my vest a week or so ago. Once the shirt is finished I will get a photo posted of both together. My father’s shirt I took to the local embroidery shop here and chose a simple design from one of their books. I will post a photo of that when I get it back as well.
Many of you have asked about the next Secret of the Stole KAL. I am currently working on two patterns right now. The first is a secret knit a long that will begin in June for the Atlanta Knitters Guild. I am speaking at their monthly meeting on the topic of secret knit a longs and have been designing a pattern just for them. If you are anywhere near Atlanta and would like to meet me or participate in the knit a long, please come to the meeting. It should be lots of fun. The pattern will be available for purchase when the knit a long is over.
The second pattern is for the Secret of the Stole IV. The yahoo group for this stole exists, but is NOT open for membership yet. I have the pattern pretty much completed, but not test knitted. Realistically, starting school and designing the other pattern is going to set back the timing a little. Hopefully, the Secret of the Stole IV can begin sometime in June or July. Keep your fingers crossed…