Change underway for Czech Royal Court as application period opens

By Cindy Hadish

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Royalty at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s Old World Christmas Market, 2016. Photo/Cindy Hadish.

Applications for the Czech Heritage Foundation’s Royal Court are being accepted now through March 1, and new guidelines for the program will open the door for more participants.

The Czech Heritage Foundation board approved expanding the criteria for new members at its November meeting. The change will allow aspiring prince, princess, little brother and little sister candidates to apply for the Royal Court if they are active members of a Czech organization, regardless of whether or not they can prove they have Czech ancestry.

Adding the Czech organizations opens up the pool of candidates to Czech School students, members of Sokol or others who demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for Czech culture, but are not of Czech descent.

Guidelines now state that prince and princess applicants must be 12 through 18 years of age, reside in Iowa and be able to attend events in the Cedar Rapids area. They must either be at least partially of Czech descent or be active participants in Czech organizations.

The same rules apply to little brother and little sister applicants, who range in age from 6 to 12.

All candidates need to detail their involvement and why they appreciate Czech heritage in their application. Boys and girls compete for the title of Czech Prince or Princess by researching Czech customs and culture, writing an essay and being interviewed by a panel of judges. The winners serve as young ambassadors for the Czech Heritage Foundation in parades, festivals and other events throughout the year, along with their younger counterparts and Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa.

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The royal court at Czech Village Association’s annual Svatý Mikuláš Celebration, 2016. Photo/Cindy Hadish.

This year’s Czech Royal Court has been busy with activities in Czech Village and at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. They participated in the Svatý Mikuláš celebration at the Artisan’s Sanctuary and Czech Village Association’s tree-lighting ceremony. Members also sold raffle tickets for wreaths at the Old World Christmas Market at the museum and were invited to greet guests at the Three Nuts for Cinderella movie, also at the museum.

Applications for next year’s Royal Court are due March 1. Crowning will be during Houby Days in May. Find more details at CzechHeritageFoundation.com. For questions, send an email to: royalty@czechheritagefoundation.com.

Homestay Program Accepting Applications

The Czech Heritage Foundation Homestay Program funds student “Ambassadors” to live with a host family for three weeks in or near Prague, and host a Czech student from that family later in the same summer.

More than one hundred high school students have received scholarships since the educational program began in 1983. The Homestay Committee is now accepting applications for summer 2017 participants.  For more information, and to apply, click here.

Czech Princess “Czechs the Walk”

By Cindy Hadish

Near-record flooding in Cedar Rapids didn’t wash away Rachael Brandon’s dream to share her Czech heritage.

Rachael, 14, one of the Czech Heritage Foundation’s Czech princesses, was scheduled to be in a special event during CzechFest, but the Czech Village festival was canceled in September as floodwaters rose to near-record levels in Cedar Rapids.

flood-ripBusinesses and others in Czech Village and New Bohemia, as well as downtown, sandbagged and temporarily closed their doors to prepare for the flood, which crested at nearly 22 feet on Sept. 27, second in the history of Cedar Rapids only to the 31-foot crest of 2008, which devastated core neighborhoods.

 

This time, earthen berms and other temporary flood protection managed to hold back the swollen Cedar River for the most part, but the flooding forced the cancellation of the St. Wenceslaus Czech Goulash Day and CzechFest.

czech-the-walk-kcrgRachael, 14, a ninth-grader and aspiring artist, had planned to share her Czech heritage by painting a sidewalk during CzechFest. While “chalk the walk” has become popular nationwide, Rachael had planned to “Czech the Walk” by painting a scene of a girl in kroj – a Czech folk costume – on the sidewalk in front of the Artisan’s Sanctuary, 45 16th Ave. SW, which partnered in the event.

 

Although disappointed by the cancellation, Rachael held out hope that she could someday paint her sidewalk mural. Her opportunity arose during Dožínky, a new festival in Czech Village. Dožínky, the Czech word for “after harvest,” featured live music at village restaurants and taverns, a pumpkin-carving contest, Czech polka Mass, a kolache-eating contest at Sykora Bakery, and the last-minute rescheduling of Czech the Walk.

czech-the-walk-paintingDespite a near-constant drizzle, Rachael was able to paint her sidewalk design during Dožínky on Oct. 15. She modeled the kroj in the painting after her own kroj, which she sewed with the help of her grandmother and wears to parades, festivals and other events in which the Czech Heritage Foundation’s Royal Court participates. Rachael, who also is a Czech School student, has a passion for her Czech ancestry. Her father’s side of the family came to the United States from Moravia.

Most of the Czech Village and New Bohemia shops are back in business and Rachael was excited to be a part of the event.

“This is a dream come true,” she said.

In addition to Rachael, members of the Czech Royal Court are: Czech Princes Branden Knight and Drake Ainsworth; Czech Princess Victoria Knight; Little Sisters Ingrid Landa, MyAh Morgan and FayLyn Franks; and Little Brothers Lars Landa and Davis Robe.

Scholarship winners announced at annual picnic

Left to right: Elijah Wolter, Ashley Pudil, and Erika Serbousek. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Left to right: Elijah Wolter, Ashley Pudil, and Erika Serbousek. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The Czech Heritage Foundation awarded three $1,300 scholarships during the annual picnic on August 9 at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

Erika Serbousek of Iowa State University, Ashley Pudil of Loras College and Elijah Wolter of the University of Chicago were all deserving recipients, said Lee Thornbloom, who chairs the scholarship committee.

Scholarship winners with CHF Scholarship Committee Chair Lee Thornbloom. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Scholarship winners with CHF Scholarship Committee Chair Lee Thornbloom. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

During the picnic, Bonnie Rohlena and Donna Gruntorad paid special recognition to Marj Nejdl, who so generously volunteered her time and talent to provide the exquisite artwork for the new Czech Heritage Foundation logo and the new Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Pageant logo.

Czech Master Folk Artist Marj Nejdl, left, and Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Co-Director Bonnie Rohlena. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Czech Master Folk Artist Marj Nejdl, left, and Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Co-Director Bonnie Rohlena. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

 

New Czech Heritage Foundation logo by Master Czech Folk Artist Marj Nejdl.

New Miss-Czech Slovak Iowa Pageant logo by Master Czech Folk Artist Marj Nejdl.

New Miss-Czech Slovak Iowa Pageant logo by Master Czech Folk Artist Marj Nejdl.

Members of the Czech Royal Court were introduced at the picnic, as well. The picnic is an annual get-together for members of the Czech Heritage Foundation, their families and friends.

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(photo/Cindy Hadish)

Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa earns top three at national pageant

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Ashley Pudil, left, of Iowa, won second runnerup; Michaela Steager of Nebraska was crowned queen and Anna O’Renick of Missouri was first runnerup in the Miss Czech-Slovak U.S. pageant on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, in Wilber, Neb. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Ashley Pudil, Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa, was awarded second runner-up during the 30th Annual Miss Czech-Slovak U.S. pageant on August 7 in Wilber, Nebraska. She also took home the Sokol Award for her Moravian folk dance in the talent portion of the event.  Ashley is the daughter of Kevin and Denise Pudil, and is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Spanish at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Her Czech heritage comes from both sides of her family, who originally lived in Brumov, a village in Southern Moravia and Southern Bohemia.

Left to right: Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Co-Director Bonnie Rohlena, Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Ashley Pudil, and Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Co-Director Donna Gruntorad. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Left to right: Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Co-Director Bonnie Rohlena, Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa 2015/2016 Ashley Pudil, and Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Co-Director Donna Gruntorad. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa is sponsored by the Czech Heritage Foundation. See more photos from the pageant and the Wilber Czech Festival here.

Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa 2015/2016 and Miss Czech-Slovak US 2nd Runner Up Ashley Pudil. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa 2015/2016 and Miss Czech-Slovak US 2nd Runner Up 2016-2017 Ashley Pudil. (photo/Cindy Hadish)