Wilber Mayor Roger Chrans says campers started arriving Monday to pick out choice spots at a local campground and along the highway through town. Mayor Chrans says a lot of volunteer and business support goes into putting on the festival every year.
“It means everything to us to be able to share what we’re about, share our culture, our love of the Czech heritage and everybody becomes Czech and they get to join us for the weekend,” Mayor Chrans says. “It means everything to us.”
Sheryl Kastanek, with the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber and the Wilber Chamber of Commerce, says residents always seem to do their part to put on the best face for visitors.
Kastanek says, “Because company’s coming, people spruce up, paint the shutters, maybe make better horticulture around the house. Company’s coming! We want it nice for them!”
One guest will be Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale who will serve as Grand Marshal of the Czech celebration parades. Kastanek says Gale was instrumental in helping the community establish the well-known Czech dancing couple as the logo of the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber.
“Mr. Gale and one of the creators of our festival got together” and made that the trademark of our town, she says. “It’s on our welcome signs. That’s ours and we appreciate his help to get that done.” Gale earlier announced he will not seek reelection.
The Czech festival features parades at 2 PM Saturday and Sunday, along with the children’s parade tonight at 7.
Czech music, food, art displays and Czech dancing will be featured throughout the weekend. The National Miss Czech-Slovak Pageant will have ten contestants competing for the crown. The festival runs through Sunday.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice