Masopust 2024: The Czech Mardi Gras will be Feb. 10 in Calmar

Pictured at center are the Czech Deputy Counsel General and his wife from Chicago, along with Czech Heritage Partnership President Ken Zajicek (left) and Audrey Lensing, the head of the Masopust event (right) at last year’s Masopust event in Calmar. (submitted photo)

The Czech Heritage Partnership is holding its 18th Annual Masopust celebration on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 10, at Pivo Brewery in Calmar. 

“We are very excited to again hold Masopust, the Czech Mardi Gras,” said Ken Zajicek, President of the Czech Heritage Partnership (CHP). “This Masopust event gives folks a glimpse of Czech culture and an amazing taste of old-world Czech food . . . Pivo’s signature Masopust Czech beers, live and silent auctions, a wild and crazy Czech theater skit, scholarship awards and the awesome chance for conversation with family and renew friendships.” 

This year’s entertainment features the well-known Malek’s Fishermen Band. Masopust event organizer Audrey Lensing said, “The Malek’s Band is one of the finest polka bands in the Midwest and continues the great tradition of dance music excellence started by Syl Malek in the 1930s.”

The Czech village of Varvazov will be highlighted during the event and its descendants recognized. Varvazov is the origin of the Novak, Luzum and Humpal families to be recognized; these families came to northeast Iowa in the mid-1800s. Varvazov is a municipality and village in Písek District in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic with about 200 inhabitants. The historic center of the village is well-preserved and is protected by law as a village monument zone, according to Wikipedia. 

A live auction will be held featuring unique Czech objects and local businesses items, along with a silent auction featuring items donated by families. 

Later the winner of the Pecinovsky Scholarship will be announced, and there will be an opportunity to meet Jakub Uteseny, the Counsel General of the Consulate of the Czech Republic in Chicago.

The afternoon entertainment culminates with music and the famous Czech-style supper at 5 p.m. The menu consists of mouth-watering traditional Czech foods: breaded pork cutlets (Smazeny Veprovy Rizky), dill gravy (Koprova Omacka), tomato-cucumber salad (Rajcato-Okurkovy salat), parsley potatoes (Petrizelove-brambory), dumplings (Knedliky), sauerkraut (Kysele zeli), Czech Sausage (Jitrnice), kolaches and rohlicky (Kolaches & Rohliky), rye bread (Zitny Chleb) and poppyseed cake (Makovy dort).

PIVO event center doors open at noon on Saturday, Feb. 10. For tickets and other information, call Audrey Lensing (563-380-3015), Ken Zajicek (563-379-4100) or Eileen Tlusty (641-229-6049), find “czechmasopust” on Facebook or visit www.northeastiowaczech.com.

About the CHP

The Czech Heritage Partnership was established in 2003. The CHP is an active association of people interested in preserving and promoting collective ethnic heritage, history, forms of music and family genealogy. The CHP Family History Center in Protivin preserves social customs, historic properties, old documents, family pictures and books. This focus on cultural heritage enriches lives and the quality of life in this region.

“The funds support the operation of the Family History and Documentation Center in Protivin,” Zajicek continued. “And Masopust funds provide for unique cultural events like the classical music concerts at St. Wenceslaus Church in Spillville.”

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