Story by Sarah Naron
Like many large-scale events, the Caldwell Kolache Festival faced cancellation in 2020 due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. As another September rolls around, however, the future of the soiree remains bright, and the final touches are being put on the planning for this year’s activities, slated to take place Friday-Saturday, Sept. 10-11 in Caldwell, the county seat of Burleson County in the eastern region of Central Texas. For more than three decades, the weekend-long festival has paid homage to the area’s Czechoslovakian heritage, and according to Burleson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Mott, this year will be no exception.
Mott said that the 2021 Kolache Festival will get underway with a new event on Friday.
“Our bake show committee is having a kolache bake demonstration,” she said. “It’s going to be downtown at the United Methodist church, and it’s something that you have to pre-register for. It’s from 2-6 p.m. that Friday.”
Hosted by Bruno Shimek – who took home State Non-Professional Championship titles in 2003, was the first to be named the Champion of Champions in 2014, and joined the bake show committee in 2015 – the show will give the audience a step-by-step look at the preparation of kolaches. Brian Estlund, who has taken home many Rosette awards during previous festivals, will provide assistance to Shimek.
“That is something that I know they have already gotten a good response to,” Mott said. “We are definitely looking forward to that.”
Pre-registration may be done online at www.burlesoncountytexas.com.
“On Friday night, there will be a pre-festival party,” Mott said. “The Burleson County Czech Heritage Museum will start us off with a pre-festival party at the expo center here in Caldwell. This is gonna consist of a meal and a dance – of course, with Czech music.”
Providing said musical entertainment will be the Lost Cause Band, which was formed in 2014 and consists of bassist Walter Krchnak; guitarist Joey Krchnak; keyboardist Tim Kulhanek; percussionist Spencer Schneider; and vocalist Alicia Kulhanek. Tim also plays the accordian and saxophone, while Alicia rounds out the band’s sound with the accordian and trumpet. The band’s repertoire includes something for everyone, ranging from rock to polka to country.
The pre-festival dinner will be served from 5:30-7 p.m., while the dance will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude at 9:30 p.m. Those interested in purchasing tickets may do so at the Burleson County Chamber of Commerce, located at 301 N. Main St. in Caldwell.
Those attending Friday’s festivities will also have the opportunity to enjoy a quilt show presented by the Creative Memories Quilt Guild,
“The quilt show will also be going on the next day, Sept. 11,” Mott said. “The ladies who put this on do a fabulous job each year, so we are very much looking forward to this year’s show.”
The second day of the festival will kick off at 9 a.m. and feature various activities throughout the day before coming to a close at 5 p.m.
“We’ll have a kolache eating contest, a car show, and an antique machinery and tractor show,” Mott said. “There will be lots of arts and crafts vendors and tons of food vendors to choose from as well.”
Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated event of the day is the kolache sale, which will be taking place on Main St.
“The kolaches usually sell out by 1 p.m.,” Mott cautioned. “So, if you want kolaches, you better get there early and get your kolaches for the day.”
According to the official website of Burleson County, more than 30,000 visitors flock to Caldwell each year to attend the festival, and the amount of kolaches sold during the event is in the tens of thousands. Other food available for purchase includes traditional festival foods and homemade sausage.
Other activities scheduled to take place during the festival include musical entertainment, shopping opportunities, and the crowning of Miss Kolache Festival.
The Kolache Festival is an event Mott described as an opportunity for “just all-around good family fun that we love to put on here in Caldwell.
“There’s so many components of it that just make it so special,” she said.
Among Mott’s personal favorite aspects of the festival is seeing youth from the area get involved.
“We have the Youth Beseda Dancers and the Beseda Alumni Dancers that come out and perform right after the opening ceremonies,” she said. “It’s always fun to see the youth taking their role in the festival, because they’ll be the ones to continue it when we’re no longer here.”
Mott also enjoys socializing with the vendors who set up shop in downtown Caldwell for the duration of the festival.
“Since I have so much contact with the vendors, my favorite part is actually getting to meet them – you know, put a face with a name and get to know them a little more,” she said. “Getting to actually meet them is something that is special to me.”
For more information, including a complete list of events, please visit www.burlesoncountytx.com or call the Burleson County Chamber of Commerce at (979)-567-0000.