Oklahoma Czech Festival
Above the entrance to the Czech Building in Yukon, Oklahoma, are the words “Vitáme Vás” — “We welcome you” in Czech — a phrase that perfectly sums up the annual Oklahoma Czech festival in Yukon.
Czech immigrant Anton Caha was among the “Sooners,” people who illegally claimed homesteads in the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma before the area was officially opened to settlement in 1889, and Caha and
his group tried to stake their claims near Mustang Creek and the North Canadian River.
Although Caha and other Czech sooners were prosecuted for breaking the law, the site of his party’s claim near Yukon became the state’s largest Czech settlement.
Today, Yukon is known as the “Czech capital of Oklahoma” and is home to the Oklahoma Czech Festival, one of the state’s largest free outdoor festivals, said Marjorie Jezek, president of Oklahoma Czechs Inc.
Now in its 48th year, the festival kicks off on the first Friday evening in October and continues Saturday, starting with a parade along Route 66 that features floats, marching bands, antique cars, the Oklahoma Red Dirt Jeep Club and the Shriners.
At the Czech building, visitors can buy “kolaches” — a type of fruit-filled puffy pastry — and “klobasa” sandwiches. Vendors at 150 booths sell Czech souvenirs and homemade crafts such as jams, jellies and quilts, while 30 food vendors ply guests with traditional Czech dishes, as well as wine and homemade root beer, Jezek said. Dancers in full costume perform traditional Czech folk dances throughout the day.
Prix de West
This year, the Prix de West celebrated 40 years of Western art in Oklahoma with 295 pieces by 101 artists on display at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum through August.
The invitational art show features contemporary Western artists and includes seminars, demonstrations, panel discussions, receptions and an awards banquet. The Prix de West starts with two days of events, and the opening weekend ends with a sale of all the exhibition pieces.
Paintings and sculptures portray Western vistas and wildlife, scenes from historic Western life and contemporary interpretations of Western themes.
Although the show opened the first week in June, the exhibition and sale will continue through Aug. 4, said Catherine Creppon, director of public relations and museum events. And there’s always next year to catch the opening events.
Each year, a Prix de West winner is chosen, and the museum buys that art piece for its permanent exhibit, which, as of June, includes 40 works, one from each year of the event.
“Prix de West is the premier Western fine art show in the United States,” Creppon said. “So for Oklahoma City to have the nation’s premier Western art show is just another reason to visit the city.”
Groups can make reservations for the opening events or visit the museum anytime.