After the success of and in Omaha, Milligan, Dwight and Wilber Czech Festivals a request came for a state organization of Nebraska Czechs wherein other Czech communities could work together in the preservation of Czech heritage and culture.
On May 11, 1963, at a public business meeting in Wilber the state organization was formed. The local Wilber group became the "Nebraska Czechs of Wilber" and superimposed over that a state organization called the "Nebraska Czechs Incorporated."
The first officers and directors of the Nebraska Czechs Inc., were: Eugene Zajicek, Wilber, president; George Barnas, Wilber, vice-president; Helene Novak Baer, Wilber, secretary; and Frank Kohel, Wilber, treasurer; and directors were Alfred Novacek, Dwight; Lloyd Ourecky, Wilber; Vladimir Kucera, Lincoln; Will Janecek, Wilber; Ann Libor, Omaha; Ray Houska, Wilber; Elsa Skocpol, Crete; and Hugo Srb, Lincoln.
The general nature of the Corporation is to develop and encourage interest, research, and inquiry into the culture, traditions, and history of the Czechs immigrants to the United States and to Nebraska only as they and their descendants brought them to America . . . not as they might have existed in Czechoslovakia or as they might exist today. The "Nebraska Czechs Incorporated" has no connection with any individual, organization, or policy in Czechoslovakia. The "Nebraska Czechs Incorporated" attracts public attention to the customs, culture and heritage of Czechoslovakian by advertising, sponsoring of exhibitions, celebrations, and other events. The state organization also acts as a clearing house for communications pertaining to all chapters, coordinates Festivals and entertainment dates, furnishes coordinated publicity to all chapters, and sponsors the Nebraska Czech Queen Contest.
Dwight was the first Czech community to be granted a charter under the Nebraska Czechs Inc., and it became "The Nebraska Czechs of Dwight." Each added chapter retains the name "Nebraska Czechs" and adds the name of its own town or community. Dwight became Chapter One in 1963 with Alfred Novacek as president. Wilber became a chapter member in: 1963 with Eugene Zajicek, president. Thethird charter was granted to President Edward Varejcka for the Czech Club in Schuyler. The Omaha Czech Club, one of the oldest Czech organizations in Nebraska, affiliated with the Nebraska Czechs Inc., in 1964 with Dr. Richard Svehla as president. The Komensky Club, a Czech Club in the University of Nebraska under the advisorship of Dr. Vladimir Kucera, became the fifth chapter of the state organization. Larry Jiskra of Crete was president. This is a flexible group since students remain in the University for a period of four years.
The Nebraska Czechs Inc., meets eight times a year at a central place or is hosted by a chapter member in its own community.
One of the requirements of the Organization is that each chapter sponsors some Czech entertainment at least once a year. Sponsoring annual Czech Festivals are The Nebraska Czechs of Dwight and The Nebraska Czechs of Wilber. The Nebraska Czechs of Schuyler conduct an annual Czech Music Festival each June. The Nebraska Czechs of Omaha and The Nebraska Czechs of Lincoln present annual spectaculars each spring and winter. Additional events may be featured by each chapter.
The wearing of the Nebraska Czech costume is encouraged by each chapter at its event. Although the Nebraska Czechs, Inc., uses the general idea of the Czech national costume, it discourages the imported costume and encourages individually designed and locally made costumes. In the competitive contests where the costume might carry weight with the judges, all imported costumes are disqualified.
A Nebraska Czech Seal was adopted by the state organization for its use by all chapters as a guarantee to the buyer that all Czech handcraft is of high standard, is bona-fide, and is made by local Czech handcrafters, that it is not imported or made by other non-Nebraska Czech groups. The Seal in its various media is controlled by the State Organization and is sold to each chapter for a small fee. In addition to annual chapter dues of $10.00, the sale of these seals is the only source of income for the Nebraska Czechs Inc.
The Nebraska Czech Seal was designed by Walter A. Baer as an emblem for the Czechs of Nebraska. It is a seal depicting a prairie scene with a plow and a sheaf of wheat with the slogan "Pioneer of the Prairie" across the front of it. The Prairie is the land where the Czechs settled and which they conquered The plow depicts the soil which they broke to make productive, and the sheaf of golden wheat indicates the wealth which they helped to produce in our great state. The seal is reproduced in various media and it is used as a trademark on all souvenirs. Because of the Czechoslovakian political situation we do not sanction or permit the sale of any imported Czech articles and we discourage any other import as a Czech souvenir.
Each chapter holds a local Czech Queen contest annually. The winner of these local contests then compete for the Miss Nebraska Czech Queen title at Wilber during its annual festival. The Nebraska Czechs. Inc., organize and conduct the queen contest on the state level. The state queen then represents the Nebraska Czechs Inc., at all events including the Miss Nebraska Pageant held annually each June. Nebraska Czech Queens chosen were: Jane Pospisil Buckner, Wilber, 1962; Susan Sasek, Wilber, 1963; Bonita Krula, Schuyler, 1964; Susan Kunc, Wilber, 1965; and Janis Kovar, Wilber, 1966. The Nebraska Czechs Inc., has justified its existence in its four years of organization by promoting the aims and desires of the Czech people of Nebraska to be recognized and respected. Its future influence to promote the culture and heritage in the minds of other generations will depend on the organization's growth and added influence in the State of Nebraska and the United States.
NEBRASKA CZECHS INCORPORATED
By Helen Novak Baer
From the book Czechs and Nebraska
Edited by Vladimir Kucera and Alfred Novak