Inaugural ‘St. Wenceslas Brewfest’ welcomes hundreds
MILLIGAN, Neb. (KSNB) - The inaugural St. Wenceslas Brewfest went on Saturday with Czech food, music and plenty of brews and other spirits. Hundreds of people came out to downtown Milligan to enjoy the festivities and to help keep Czech traditions alive in Nebraska.
Deb Polacek, one of the St. Wenceslas Brewfest organizer, said the festival shows the true meanings behind the word: culture.
“People working and playing and getting together, and of course, enjoying food music and dance,” Polacek said. “Czech people love to visit, they love to have polka music playing and they love their food and of course their beer, their ‘pivo.’”
Though this may have been the First St. Wenceslas Brewfest in Milligan, Petr Ježek, who works as the economic section, agriculture for the Embassy of the Czech Republic (Washington, D. C.), said the festival had been held for a number of years elsewhere.
“In the Czech Republic, at the end of September, we celebrate ... Saint Wenceslas, our patron saint — he’s a patron saint of the Czech Republic, and also of the brewing sector,” Ježek said.
The inaugural Brewfest was originally planned to go on last year, but was called off due to COVID-19. Ježek said, finally getting to see everyone enjoying the Czech festivities Saturday was almost worth the wait.
“It’s great,” he said. “I really admire the Nebraskans who have the heritage in the Czech or Czechoslovakia that they still keep these very nice traditions.”
After seeing the success of the first Czech festival in Milligan, Polacek said organizers were already considering bringing back the event again the following here.
“We surely hope so,” Polacek said. “I’ve already talked to some of the Milligan people who have volunteered ... and they were already talking about it this weekend. They said, ‘You know, we should do this again.’ So, I’m hoping next year will be the second annual St. Wenceslas Brewfest here in Milligan, Nebraska.”
Festivalgoers danced and sang along to several polka bands as the musicians performed a number of Czech tunes.
During the opening ceremony, the 43rd Nebraska Army National Guard band played the U.S. national anthem. Additionally, the Milligan Czech Brass Band performed the Czech Republic national anthem. Following the anthems, a number of organizers — both from the local and national level — introduced themselves and held the traditional ‘tapping of the keg.’
There were also cooking demonstrations, a chef preparing traditional Czech dishes and activities the kids could have in on as well. The festival began at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and finished up at 10:30 p.m. in the Milligan Auditorium Beer Garden.
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