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South Dakota Czech Days
mid June – Tabor, South Dakota
Czech Days celebrates Czechoslovakia fun, music entertainment, dancing and traditional Czech foods.
Listed as one of the Top “20” June attractions in the nation by AAA, South Dakota Czech Days has also been selected as one of the 100 Best Events in North America by the American Bus Association (ABA).
The celebration has kept alive the heritage of the early founders of the little South Dakota community who came to Tabor from Czechoslovakia as early as 1869.
What started out to be a small community celebration has grown into an attraction that draws literally thousands of people each year. The little town and surrounding rural community has attracted as many as 10,000 people for the two-day affair.
Czech Days has become so popular and so well attended that it is now listed as one of the Top “20” June attractions in the nation by AAA. In 1999 it was selected as one of the 100 Best Events in North America by the American Bus Association (ABA).
Czech Days represents Tabor in the national Local Legacies project of the Library of Congress Bicentennial celebration. The Local Legacies project was designed to document and pay tribute to the nation's rich cultural heritage. The Library of Congress fostered community projects to ensure that future generations will have access to important cultural "snapshots" of American tradition, folklore and everyday life.
The colorful Czech Days celebration has attracted many dignitaries down through the years, including officials from the Czech Republic. Some of the finest talent has appeared as part of the celebration.
Thousands of dozens of the tasty Czech pastry, the Kolace, are consumed by the visitors. Few go home without taking a dozen or two for the folks at home.
There is the traditional Czech dance – The Beseda – done by the young and old alike. The dancers dress in the colorful costumes which their relatives in the Czech Republic and Slovakia might dress in.
An added attraction for the past few years is the addition of a Polka Mass at 5pm on Saturday, afternoon at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church. The mass features area singers and musicians taking part in the mass with traditional Czech music and song being enjoyed by the hundreds of worshipers filling the church.
Many persons will be taking home fine souvenirs some of which the people of the community have prepared by hand. They have sewn the costumes for Czech dolls, made records and tapes of their own 1890 Band and Czech Christmas carols, and added a kolace and roll baking demonstration both days in the Community Center.
There’s plenty of tow-tapping polka music being played throughout the celebration. Many of the bars hire a special band to provide “live music” for their customers during the celebration. There are public dances – with a different polka band included on the program for each evening.
The one feature which always attracts a very large crowd is the colorful parade held on the first day – a parade which has had the blessing of the weatherman most years. The floats usually carry out the Czech theme either in color, in motto, in dress or in music. It’s not infrequent to see a float with a real live “polka band” entertaining over the parade route.
Some years as many as 5,000 people have been estimated to have watched the parade which on occasion has included some 80-plus entries.
As always excellent entertainment is lined up for the two day affair, which of course also includes a carnival with the usual exciting rides and booths for young and old, other varieties of entertainment also adds to the fun of the two-day event.
The non-Czech people are thrilled with the friendliness and the hospitality of the Tabor people. They are made to feel right at home in a typical small town of South Dakota – which for a couple of days a year puts on the dress of a typical small town in Czechoslovakia.
(Most of this information is taken from an article written by P & D reporter Les Helgeland in 1969.)
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