Monday, August 5, 2013

Bounce Fest

Bouncy castles aren’t very Czech.
The Wilber Czech Festival takes place the first weekend in August. People come from all over the world to enjoy the music, food, and atmosphere of the busiest weekend of the year in the Czech Capitol of the United States.
My family goes every year. We put on our vests, drive down to Wilber, find for a parking spot, have lunch at the Sokol Hall, and fight for the last plate of kolaches and some jaternice at Frank’s or Wilber Meat Market.
The parade is necessary. This year the weather was amazing: cloudy, breezy, and cool. Usually we’re sweltering in the heat and humidity, but we still stand out on Main Street with everyone else, enjoying the procession of classic cars, tractors, past and present Czech Queens, and marching bands. Our favorite things are the pool bus (it’s nice to get splattered with water in the heat; even more fun when it’s because someone’s just done a cannonball into a tank of water on a repurposed school bus) and the Wilber-Clatonia Alumni Band: years of graduates back home for another performance, all dressed in traditional costumes.
The new hat we bought this
year. It fits everyone!
We sometimes grab a lemonade or a funnel cake from a street vendor, or acquire new Czech memorabilia to wear next year. This year we walked past the Bohemian Tractor Pull, which my dad tried to convince me consists of several people pulling a tractor instead of a tractor pulling something. But apparently he’s right.
Another thing we added to our Fest experience was paying too much money for five minutes in a bouncy castle. My daughter is finally old enough to giggle and jump up and down at the same time, so my dad made sure she had a good time. The hardworking employees from a local bouncy castle rental company in Crete had inflated a traditional bouncy castle, a bouncy obstacle course, a bouncy slide, and a couple of other things that were “too big” for my three year old.
The Bouncy Slide in all its glory
My brother and sister-in-law headed home to make sure my nephew had a nap, my mom and brother took my one year old on a walk, and my dad and I stayed and laughed as my three year old took possession of the slide.
Children of various ages would stand in line, the employee would take their tickets or check to make sure they were wearing an “unlimited” bracelet, then help them up if needed. The kid had to get to the top before the next one could start climbing, and then they could slide down as slowly or as quickly as they wanted, with as much or as little bounce as they could handle.
The line was sometimes long, sometimes short, but it was interesting to watch my daughter learn that she had to wait for her turn behind a line of people. Then she’d climb to the top, run back and forth trying to decide if she wanted to try the slide on the left or the slide on the right, and then zoom down, giggling.
Bouncy castles may not be very Czech, but they do fit with the spirit of fun at the Wilber Czech Festival. Even though it’s hot, it’s worth it for the food, the music, and the good times. My daughter definitely enjoyed herself; she even said the next day, “Mommy, are we going to the Czech Fest today?”

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