Clad in traditional folk garb, called “kroje,” and decorated lavishly with embroidery and sequins, the dancers stomped their feet and clapped their hands to polka music.
In “Muzska Skok,” a dance from the Silesia region, men carrying axes danced in circles, occasionally clapping their axes together and sometimes swinging them wildly through the air. In “Do Kolecko, Forma Kola” – “Dances with Circles” — women stutter-stepped individually and in a giant spinning circle, waving tasseled rings in the air.
As head of the local Czech School, Benda said her students aim to learn about and teach the culture's language and geography through dance.
“Each region has its own dances,” she explained. “So that's how we're approaching it.”
The cold, blustery day kicked off with a parade down Main Street and ended with the Czech-Slovak Royalty Pageant.
Winners were: Katie Holman, queen; Kelsie Rohling, junior queen; Makinzey Shirazie, princess; and Anthony Brown, prince.
Some came for the carnival, and others walked a midway that included Czech food and crafts, as well as typical American fare such as turkey legs, roasted almonds and cotton candy. Still others flocked to the beer garden.
Linda Weaver of Oklahoma City, joined by her friend Loyal Furry, of Norman, said she came to Czech Fest for the first time this year to immerse herself in the culture.
Dining and watching the dancers, Weaver said she forgot about the cold.
“I'm just enjoying the festivities, the music, and I'm enjoying the sausage, or whatever I have here,” she said.