WILBER – The 61st Annual Wilber Czech Festival kicked off Friday, with celebration organizers urging people to stay hydrated and take breaks in air-conditioned environments occasionally this weekend.

The three-day festival is being greeted by temperatures expected to hover around 100 on Saturday, with a heat index that could surpass 110-degrees.

Friday night, long-time volunteers were recognized with community awards for their continued dedication and effort to the long-time festival.   The Wilber Alumni Dancers, those who have come up through the ranks of the junior and senior dancers, performed on Main Street, by the bandstand.

Friday night’s events are highlighted by a children’s parade, where the heat didn’t seem to cut into the crowd that attended the event. 

Over the weekend, Czech culture, food and demonstrations will be featured at several locations, along with parades both Saturday and Sunday, at two p.m.  The Sunday parade will be televised on NCN. 

Pageant contestants will vie for the crown of Miss Czech Slovak USA, with the pageant helping to wrap up activities Sunday night.  This is the 35th year the Wilber Czech Days celebration has hosted the national pageant.  

Polka bands will be playing at the T.J. Sokol Hall and the Hotel Wilber Beer Garden, and at establishments downtown.