America is a diverse place, filled with diverse peoples who immigrated here from many nations. As much as we like to see America as a giant melting pot, it is nevertheless filled with individuals who are proud of their ethnic identities and cultural traditions and who are also happy to share this with others. Ethnic [...]

America is a diverse place, filled with diverse peoples who immigrated here from many nations. As much as we like to see America as a giant melting pot, it is nevertheless filled with individuals who are proud of their ethnic identities and cultural traditions and who are also happy to share this with others.
Ethnic festivals and gatherings abound throughout the United States. One such event was held this past Friday and Saturday in Wilson: the annual After Harvest Czech Festival.
Wilson has a rich Czech heritage, which is still important today. Beginning around 1875, Bohemians and Moravians (persons from regions of the country later known as Czechoslovakia) started flocking to the community at the invitation of one of the first Czechs to settle in Ellsworth County. Many Czechs did so over the course of the next 35 years, including my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, who settled in the far southwestern corner of Lincoln County, not far from Wilson.
The Czech Festival has many components: from traditional dancing and the Kansas Czech-Slovak Queen Contest to traditional foods like dumplings, jaternice, sauerkraut and pork, dill potatoes, and, of course, kolaces. The festival includes plenty of polka music and dancing, as well as the annual meeting of the Kansas Czechs, Inc. You might learn a little bit of Czech, and, this year, you could have practiced what you learned with a band whose members hailed from Brno (in the Moravian region) and who performed folk and other Eastern European-flavored music following the Saturday morning parade.
Regardless of how you spent your time at this year's Czech fest (or will spend it at next year's event), you will gain a real sense that the Bohemian and Moravian peoples who settled here not only became good, patriotic American citizens but also left a deep impression upon the Wilson community that still influences its cultural traditions today.
The diversity of America is what truly makes it great: the richness of its past and the scores of people who came (and still continue to come) from far flung lands and who have contributed their best to help make our country what it is today.