Almost one in five Nebraskans is of Czech heritage and an annual festival is underway in the Saline County town of Wilber to celebrate.
Charlie Keller is president of the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber and runs the Czech Festival which is steeped in family traditions.
“It’s passed on from generation to generation, and the fun, it’s all in the fun that we have doing this,” Keller says. “And of course the food. I’ve never seen a person turn down a kolache yet.”
This is the 12th year Keller has presided over the annual festival, which typically draws 30- to 40,000 people.
“This is Christmas to me because I see all of the people get together and the love they give out for each other and the fun that they have, you can’t take away,” he says.
Keller says more than 900 people volunteer in some way for the Czech Festival. He says about 18% of Nebraska’s population has some measure of Czech heritage.
The festival begins today with an evening kids’ parade and events continue throughout Saturday and Sunday, including parades at 2 PM each day of the weekend.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice