Men and women in vibrant costumes ride by on floats created by Czech organizations who have invested their time into preserving the heritage that is so rich in West, TX. This showing of cultural appreciation is part of the annual Westfest event parade that takes place every Labor Day weekend.
Wesfest started in 1976, and has become a highly anticipated event, not only for the people of West, but for Czech-loving people everywhere. The two-day, three-night event usually brings in around 20,000 people and continues to grow in popularity. This year, the theme of the event is Good Ole Days, so there will be even more celebration of the Czech culture and its roots in Central Texas.
“The event has really become about family reunions and a chance for everyone to get together,” said the event’s marketing and promotions director, Jessica Kapavik.
The event begins Friday evening, Aug. 30 and goes through Sunday, Sept. 1. The fun is almost non-stop for two-and-a-half days, and Kapavik said there is something for everyone.
“Friday and Sunday are carnival armband nights, and Centex Roofing is giving away the first 100 armbands for free on Friday night,” she said. “But if you don’t make it for the giveaway, you can purchase a wristband for $25 and it’s all-you-can-ride at our carnival. Then there’s a parade on Saturday morning, and a 5K run on Sunday morning. Kids love all of these events.”
There are also arts and crafts, polka music to dance to, and a kolache-eating contest that will entice younger attendees
“We also have performances all day, every 30 minutes, in the amphitheater,” Kapavik said. “You’ll see dancers, a parade of Czech costumes, and much more.”
But the attractions at Westfest aren’t just for kids. There is also a Friday Night Preview Party that includes a performance by country singer Rodney Atkins and a Sunday night concert featuring Chris Knight. It’s just $20 for adults on Friday night, and $10 for the events on Saturday and Sunday.
“The is event is a great opportunity to share Czech culture with your family,” Kapavik said. “It really is a fun place to come and make memories. There aren’t too many places close by that are rooted in such deep culture.”
Not only does Westfest present an opportunity for local people to be immersed in Czech heritage, but it is also a chance for event organizers to raise funds for various youth organizations, senior citizen activities, a community center, a library and other civic programs. To date, the event has raised over $1 million for these programs.
For more information about this event, visit www.westfest.com.
Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.