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Meanwhile, Back in the New Country


Happy Westfest 2006. I guess we missed it in Brno. West, Texas, is one of the great remaining bastions of Czech-Americans in the United States. Every summer they have a festival to celebrate their Czech heritage by dancing the polka, baking kolaches, and having a good time. I've done a fair amount of research on such festivals, and they are something that everyone American interested in Czech studies should know about and experience. If you follow any European-American ethnic community or are familiar with small towns of the Midwest, then you probably also have an idea what these things are like.

A wonderful set of photos from Westfest 2006 by Rod Aydelotte was posted at the Waco Tribune. A few details will immediately tell you it's not the Czech Republic: Most tellingly, the last picture is a lemonade stand (real Czechs wouldn't be caught dead without a cold beer, kielbasa, and a shot of slivovice on a festival day); there are also too many babies (none in prams) and big trucks; and, there is a large boy scout troupe in front of a wall of heroes (you see war monuments in the Czech Republic, and most Czechs don't seem into hero worship unless there is a direct family connection or you're talking about Havel, Masaryk, or an artist or author).

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