A new tradition began during Houby Days 2014 in Cedar Rapids, with the crowning of the new Czech royal court. Typically, members are inducted during the winter, but the new timing and venue offered a more public setting during Children’s Day on May 18, 2014, at the festival in Czech Village.
Candidates wrote an essay and were interviewed by a panel that included Denver Dvorsky, board member of the Cedar Rapids Czech Heritage Foundation, and Pam Lewis, president of the Czech Village Association.
Dvorsky, who also served as announcer for the ceremony, noted that the program – sponsored by the Cedar Rapids Czech Heritage Foundation – dates back to 1981. ”The Czech prince and princess serve as young ambassadors for the Cedar Rapids Czech community and appear in parades, ceremonies and other special events,” he said. ”We are grateful for the time and effort they dedicate to these positions.”
Ashley Pudil, a senior at Xavier High School, was named Czech Princess, with Sam Uthoff, a sophomore at Prairie High School, selected as Czech Prince. Branden Knight, a seventh-grader at Harding Middle School, was named Mladší Princ, which translates to ”younger prince.”
Ashley is the daughter of Kevin and Denise Pudil of Cedar Rapids. Sam is the son of Ann and Vince Uthoff of Solon and Branden is the son of Tom and Karen Knight of Hiawatha.
All have since been serving as members of the Czech royal court, along with reigning Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa, Janna Waters, and Little Sister Iowa, Victoria Knight.
This summer, they participated in the Memorial Day ceremony and made appearances at the Freedom Festival parade in Cedar Rapids; the Belle Plaine parade on the Fourth of July; the Sesquicentennial Parade in Chelsea, and the Czech School final program.
They also have participated in several events at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and in Czech Village, including as judges at Czechtoberfest and at the museum’s 40th anniversary celebration and the opening of the exhibit by artist Peter Sís.
Kelsey Pokorny and Brennan Bell served as Czech princess and prince during the previous year and appeared in numerous events, including the St. Joseph’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Freedom Festival parades; St. Joseph’s Day Celebration; Memorial Day ceremony for the Czech National Cemetery; Cedar Rapids Czech School program; events at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library; the Fairy Tale Festival at Ushers Ferry Historic Village and Cultural Diversity Festival in Iowa City.