Czech Heritage Fest has it all

Written by Kay Boothe

September 26, 2017

Muziky Performance to Honor Bobby Jones Czech Band

The Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center in La Grange will host the Heritage Festival & Muziky on October 20 and 21. The Fest will begin at 4 pm on Friday with chicken and dumplings served while it lasts in the Hanslik Banquet Hall beginning at 5:30 pm.

Oktoberfest on the Deck will begin at 6 pm with music by the Dujka Brothers till 9:30 pm.  Mark and John Dujka have been making music together for over 30 years and have several acknowledgments, including being inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame at the KC Hall in Hallettsville, and receiving a Favorite Song Award from the International Polka Association for their recording of Church Picnic Polka. The song is featured on their latest CD, Let’s Have a Party, which celebrates the duo’s 30th anniversary. 

Saturday, the day kicks off with an opening ceremony at 10 am. The La Grange Ford Hospoda will be filled with cold pivo and musical entertainment by the Red Ravens and Bohemian Dutchmen from 11:30 am to 6 pm.  Plenty of room to dance on the Texas Polka News dance floor! The Red Ravens, from El Campo, date back to 1969, and is still one of the most sought-after bands on the dance hall circuit. The band’s popularity comes from their philosophy of “play what the people want,” including polka, waltz, and country tunes, featuring that famous line dance.  Band leader Lawrence Svetlik has been with the band since the beginning, and plays his grandfather’s tuba that stills deliver that great oom-pah sound.  The Bohemian Dutchmen from New Braunfels is led by Roy Haag.  His wife, Theresa, is also in the band, which started in 1978.  The name comes from Theresa being mostly Czech heritage and Roy being 100% German – thus, Bohemian Dutchmen.

The Legacy of Bobby Jones

Enjoy more music at the Muziky, Muziky event from 7-9:30 p.m. in the Sanford Schmid Amphitheater. Always a popular part of the Heritage Fest, this year’s Legends Series will feature The Legacy of Bobby Jones and the Bobby Jones Czech Band.  Bobby Jones, from Wharton, was one of the most popular musicians and entertainers in the polka world during the 1990s and early 2000s. Polka fans were shocked in June 2007 when it was announced that Bobby had gone missing.  Tire tracks and the license plate from his car were found on the banks of the rain swollen Brazos River in Wharton.  Ten years later, several of the musicians who shared the stage with Bobby, including Bob Suttie and Joe Zetka Jr., will gather Saturday night to pay tribute to the charismatic band leader.  The performance will be followed by a huge fireworks finale, sponsored by HEB.


In addition to enjoying the great music, you’re invited to stroll the Czech Village, an early 1900s recreated village complete with residential houses, barns, tavern, sawmill, and general store. Demonstrations of early life for the immigrants will take place throughout the grounds all day, including working in the saw mill, blacksmithing, corn shelling and grinding, hay pressing, peanut thrashing, and the making of textiles, noodles, sausage, and wine.  Children activities are sponsored by the KJT and SPJST.

An antique farm equipment and antique car show will spread through the village. Vendors and craft booths will be available for your shopping pleasure. Visit the country store for some good buys, including fresh, stone-ground corn meal for cooking. Plenty of food and cold beverages will be available as well.  The Janak Barn & Texas Czech Agricultural Museum displays farm practices and implements from the late 1800s to 1940.

The Czech Village houses two music museums. The Czech Music Museum of Texas, located in the Kalich House, features four genres of Czech music – classical, folk, polka, and liturgical. The Polka Lovers Club of Texas Museum, located in the Hoelsher House, features a display of Texas polka bands, as well as memorabilia and photos of the Polka Lovers Klub of America, Texas Chapter.

Inside the TCHCC main center, stop by the Czech Gift Shop to browse the brand new stock of authentic Czech items, T-shirts, caps, crystal, periodicals, music CDs, and new Christmas decorations for 2017.  Watch textile demonstrations of spinning and looming, crochet, and knitting, and enjoy the pictorial display of the past 20 years of TCHCC.

Have you always wondered about your Czech roots? The spacious Melnar Library will offer help with genealogy research.  The Hanslik Hall will be the site of the KJT State Taroky Championship.  Swing in there and they’d be happy to teach you this fun card game.  Plenty to do for the entire family!!  Come out and Czech out the fun!!

Book your hotel rooms at the Best Western or Hampton Inn and ask for the TCHCC Fest room block and discount before October 1.


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