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Texas Cultural Diversity: The Czech Culture of Texas
The National Polka Festival - Held In Ennis, Texas
Texas Cultural Diversity
Texas is forever getting bad press in America these days due to the obscure and the obscene political things and persons that are on the national stage that are either from here, or like George W. Bush - merely claim to be from here. It is absolutely true that Texas and Texans have a massive ego and huge amount of pride in Texas - and all you have to do to understand why is spend some time here. Texas is a huge place, has it's own foods, accents, History, and culture.
Texas is also a place of HUGE ethnic and cultural diversity. Communities of peoples from all over the world live here, and some of them have left larger marks on the Lone Star State than others have. Especially prominent in Texas are the peoples from the former Czechoslovakia. While I'm sure that there are lots of Slovakian peoples who've made a contribution to the gene pool, arts, and other areas of culture here - It's the Czechs that are most prominent in my mind. You see, here in Kaufman, Texas - we've got LOTS of Czechs in our community, and we here in Kaufman County aren't even one of the major outposts of Texas Czech culture at all.
Texas Czechs - Who WOULDN'T Love It?
Ennis, Texas - Home Of The National Polka Festival
- The National Polka Festival Home Page
The National Polka Festival in Ennis, Texas invites everyone to come help celebrate forty-five wonderful years of Czech heritage festivities Friday through Sunday, May 27-29, 2011.
Scenes From The National Polka Festival, in Ennis, Texas
The Czech Culture of Texas - The National Polka Festival
Driving through Texas - something that can't often be done in a day's time - one will see the signs on the highway concerning Texas Czech Bakeries, Texas Czech This, and Texas Czech That. It's all over the place, but just down the road from sleepy Kaufman, Texas is Ennis, Texas - one of the most Northern bastions of the Texas Czech culture. Every May in Ennis, Texas the National Polka Festival is held.
Now, the Polka is a form of dance music that originated in and is found throughout central Europe. The Polka is not exclusive to the Czech peoples at all, but the word Polka, is definitely a Czech word, so perhaps it's proper for the largely Czech town of Ennis in Texas to represent the National Polka Festival of the United States of America.
Here's three things that you should never question. Texas has huge numbers of peoples that are German immigrants, huge numbers of Czech immigrants,and Texas has HUGE numbers of Hispanics from Mexico. What I'm trying to relay here is that all three of those groups love the traditional dance of the Polka, as do the rest of us from around here - and once you hear that accordion play, the differences between Czechs, Germans, and Texas Mexican Americans is just about evaporated into the ether, as we dance, drink, sing, and eat together.
The Czech Heritage Society Of Texas
- Czech Heritage Society of Texas Index
A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION FOUNDED IN 1982, DEDICATED TO PRESERVATION OF TEXAS CZECH HERITAGE: GENEALOGY, HISTORY, MUSIC, CUSTOMS, FOOD, COSTUMES, LANGUAGE
Texas Czech Food - the Kolache
Now, there is a lot more to Texas Czech Cuisine than the humble Kolache, but let's be honest about the business of Texas Czech Food. The Kolache is the absolute star of this show, and there is a very good reason for that - it's one of the most enjoyable culinary treats on planet Earth. Though the Kolache used to be a traditional Central European Wedding Desert - it's not just for weddings anymore. Here in Texas, whether you are a proud Texas Czech or not, the Kolache is a fine breakfast, lunch, or dinner - desert and entrée!
Think of it as a fluffy sweet dough pizza with fruit - it is a sweet fruit pie. I like to have them with Texas' Blue Bell Ice Cream, but any way you slice it, the Kolache is KING of Texas Czech cuisine!
. .. but if you happen to be one of those people that eats things other than desert, or prefers them, then please give the Kolache's meat filled cousin a try, the Klobansek. Technically, the Klobansek is a kind of Kolache, but over the years the Kolache has lost some of it's traditional meaning, and it's connotation has meandered over into a realm semi exclusive to desert.
Scenes From The National Polka Festival in Ennis, Texas!
Authentic Czech Kolaches - Texas Czech Food!
Texas Czech Women
In Ennis Texas once a year is held the Miss Texas Czech Slovak Queen Pageant, a title that is not only a beauty contest, but is based on poise, charm, good manners, talent and dignity. Women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnic groups of any age have an ability to be beautiful in many ways and on many different levels - but I'm here to tell you that when Hank Williams Jr. sang his song about Texas Women, he was probably thinking of the Texas Czech Women, and their specific beauty.
My hometown is just thirty miles down the road from Ennis, Texas - the home of the Miss Texas Czech Slovak Queen Pageant, and I promise you that sleepy little Kaufman, Texas has plenty of beautiful Texas Czech women as well.
Beautiful Texas Czech Women!
Texas Historical Markers - The First Czech Immigrants
The History Of The Czech People's of Texas
Josef Arnost Bergmann is considered the father of Czech immigration for having come to Texas to minister to a large population of German Protestants living in Austin County in 1849. What basically happened is that he wrote a letter back home in which he described Texas in very favorable terms for the struggling and disenfranchised farmers of the central European ethnic groups. By 1851 his letter had had an effect, and the first group of settlers from North Easter Bohemia set sail out of Hamburg, Germany - in route for Texas.
I can only guess that those families then wrote home with similar favorable reports - as more and more families made the long journey - and the city of Cat Spring in Austin County was where they all originally settled before moving on into Fayetteville, which latter became known as the "Cradle of Czech Immigration."
Now, it should be noted that at the exact same time and even on the same ships German immigrants were coming to Texas too, right alongside the Czech immigrants. Though the German and Czech cultures and languages are certainly distinct and unique - and have maintained some distinction over time - the reality is that in Texas, we are all Texans now.
By the time that the American Civil War started there were around seven hundred Czech immigrants in Texas, but after the war the Czech immigration here really took off in waves. Ellis county where nearby Ennis, Texas is located - was a major settlement, as it is near to Dallas. Other bastions of Czech culture and settlement were and ARE Victoria County, Brazoria County, and Fort Bend County. While some estimates are that there are now around a million ethnic Czechs living in Texas, the numbers are very debatable as the ancestry or country of origin originally had often been called Austria on the official immigration papers, and then there is the matter of the boats leaving out of Germany. As I stated before, though I am not personally of Czech heritage, we are all TEXANS now.
© 2011 Wesman Todd Shaw