WILSON — In 1874, a caravan of covered wagons brought men, women and children to the rugged prairie.
They built farms from land that had never felt the plow.
Rain was scarce and life was hard but they persevered clinging to their Bohemian culture. Soon others from Czechoslovakia came to work on the railroad and stayed making Wilson their home.
The 2010 census for Wilson lists the population at 781, which increases the last weekend in July each year as the community celebrates Wilson’s Annual After-Harvest Czech Festival. This year marked the 51st celebration of Wilson’s Czech heritage.
Friday night, before the official opening flag ceremony presented by members of American Legion Post 262, toes were tapping to the sound of polka music provided by Russell’s radio station KRSL.
Excitement grew as girls wearing Czech costumes with white aprons and lots of ribbons began arriving at Lions Club Park.
Following the flag ceremony a line of Czech dancers weaved their way through the crowd dancing to traditional Czech music. The music changed and the children began a series of dances around a maypole.
While the older girls wrapped the maypole with long red, white and blue ribbons attached at the top of the pole the younger children did dances using ribbons and scarves.
Billed as “one of the largest small town parades in Kansas” Saturday’s parade was led by a military color guard followed by the mounted color guard from Fort Riley. Great Bend American Legion Post 180 Motorcycle Riders followed the color guards.
Much to the enjoyment of the children the parade was full of fire engines, police cars and ambulances all blasting their sirens.