Sunday, October 4, 2015

Big Czechs/Little Czechs Family Day - October 10th, Temple

I spent the morning hand cutting 560 paper leaves for this coming Saturday's "Big Czechs/Little Czechs" Family Day at the Czech Heritage Museum in Temple. This is the opening event for the exhibit I co-curated, Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition. After a very successful 3 months at the Institute of Texas Cultures (ITC) in San Antonio, we moved the exhibit to Temple just in time for Czech Heritage Month in Texas (October). It will be on display there through January 9, 2016.


Sharon Mena dresses a girl in kroj pieces
at the ITC for fun and photographs.
"Big Czechs/Little Czechs" (1-4pm on the 10th) will be an afternoon of activities, mostly for preschool and elementary age, to help kids either connect with their own Czech heritage or learn about Texas Czech cultural traditions in a fun way. Bring your children and grandchildren - dress up in kroj with master seamstress Maggie Grmela, make PlayDoh kolaches, play an accordion, make a family tree (what the hand cut leaves are for), learn what "pupek" means. And, of course, you can see the Texas Czechs exhibit as well. The whole event is free.  

PolkaWorks (the nonprofit that produced the exhibit) staged this same day of family activities at the ITC in July and over 600 people attended. Folks enjoyed polka lessons, accordion music played by the Central Texas Accordion Association, a food matching game, sharing their first words in Czech, and playing kroj "dress up" with Sharon Mena. Sharon was completely amazing... not only wearing her own gorgeous, elaborate kroj the whole day, but patiently dressed little Texas Czechs (and big!) and anyone else who wanted to try on pieces of Czech national dress. We were privileged to have Sharon's daughter's kroj on display at the ITC as part of the exhibit. Check out Sharon's Facebook page called Czech Costumes. 


In Temple, we'll be displaying a kroj made by West's Maggie Grmela, who's been carrying the torch for kroje in Texas since the 1970s. Maggie will also be at our Family Day event with fund pieces for little folks to try on.


Czech culture has played an instrumental role in shaping the iconic Texas landscape and its sights, sounds, and tastes can still be found throughout Texas on any given day. Like many immigrant groups, Czechs brought dance, food, music, language, and other cultural traditions with them. The Texas Czech community maintains and passes on its sense of identity by continuing to practice those traditions and creating some particular to Texas Czechs.

The exhibit installed at the Czech Heritage Museum in Temple.

Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition highlights these activities on 11 photo montage panels, presenting a contemporary picture of the diversity and richness of Texas Czech culture today. It also includes photographs, artifacts, and short documentary films shown in a multi-media “station.” Topics include taroky, music, language, community celebrations, Sokol, and more.

Kids love the exhibit's films!
 A big thanks to our Temple exhibit sponsors: The Bell County Historical Commission, Humanities Texas, and Extraco Banks. 

Save the date of November 7th for “Gather-Capture-Share”, a free workshop on collecting family memories on film, video, and audio, also produced in conjunction with the exhibition.

For more information about "Big Czechs/Little Czechs" Family Day in Temple or for the museum's regular hours, call the Czech Heritage Museum or me. 


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