82nd annual Czech Fest attracts another large crowd

By David Taylor
Star-Courier Editor

Bez práce nejsou koláe, or “Without work, there are no kolaches!”

For 82 years, the delectable pastry has been the feature of the annual Czech Fest in Crosby hosted by the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and Sunday was no different. For latecomers to the event, it was a bit of a heartache as the sweet fruit filling surrounded by puffy pastry dough disappeared almost as quickly as they were put out.

“There was a line for them as soon as we opened,” smiled Jimmy Janek, church chairman for the annual festival for the last 12 years. Janek has been assisting with the fundraiser for the church and school for the last 30 years, almost as soon as he moved to Crosby.

“I believe this started in 1940 and has gone on faithfully every year except during the pandemic. That year we hosted an online raffle,” he said.

In the early years, the festival was hosted on the campus of Sacred Heart until they outgrew the venue.

“We had it there for several years but then they built the school in 1946 and then added a new church hall and we just couldn’t handle the volume of people there, so we moved it to the fair grounds,” he recalled.

Most Catholic churches call theirs a bazaar, but Janak said the Crosby church has called theirs the Czech Fest named after the large contingent of Czechs who migrated to the town in the early 1800s.

“We get people that aren’t Catholics that aren’t parishioners who come for the music and the food,” he said.

They received a boost from the Czech Center Museum Houston, also known as Czech Cultural and Community Center, who promoted the event through their contacts on Facebook and other social media.

There’s something for everyone to do, including booths for the children, bouncy houses, cake walks, and much more, while the adults are bidding at the live auction.

“Our local businesses support us with their donations for the auction,” he said gratefully.

While he’s been leading the fundraiser for the last dozen years, he said it still takes a good bit of planning to get the fundraiser together.

“We start just after the Fourth of July with meetings about every two weeks planning out the event,” he said.

Licenses must be secured for liquor, from the fire marshal, and many others before an event of that size can be executed.

“It has to be notarized, sent to the state, and we also deal with the diocese when executing contracts,” he said.

In years past, Czech dancers used to attend the festival as well, but many of them have aged past their dancing days.

Janek’s kolache eating days are long gone, he said.

“When I lived in Hallettsville, another Czech community here in Texas, my grandmothers on both sides made them ever since I was a little kid. I can tell you honestly, I don’t even want to look at another kolache,” he laughed.

The money raised during the festival goes to support the school and the church. The school boasts an enrollment now over 125-plus, he said.

At one time, the school, which goes to sixth grade, hosted nuns as teachers. Lately, however, it has been lay teachers who educate the students.

“We’re hoping to update the convent so we can host nuns again,” he said.

To learn more about Sacred Heart Catholic Church and school, visit their website at shcrosby.org.