Sarah Stultz: Ever heard of Kolacky Days? Check it out

Published 10:00 pm Monday, July 30, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

I had never heard the word “kolacky” — or “kolache” as some people spell it — until I moved to Minnesota and met former Tribune writer and columnist Ed Shannon.

I don’t recall if Ed had any Czechoslovakian heritage or if he simply liked the taste of these Bohemian delicacies, but most years for his birthday, he would bring in an assortment of kolacky to the office for us to sample. Ed was a diabetic, so kolacky offered a treat with much less sugar than your average doughtnut or cookie.

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For those of you who have never tried kolacky, it is a pastry of sorts that holds a fruity filling.  It originated in central Europe in Czechoslovakia. 

Butch Franke, the late owner of Franke’s Bakery in Montgomery, said both open-faced and closed-faced kolackys were made in Czechoslovakia, and the closed-face kolacky came into being because the fruit in the open-faced ones would get all over the working man’s lunch bucket, according to the city of Montgomery’s website. The men had their wives fold over the pastry so it wouldn’t mess up the other things in the bucket.

Though it wouldn’t be my first choice for a treat, if I had to watch my sugar intake like Ed did, it would be a good way to get in a little sweet while still being fairly good on the sugar spectrum.

I haven’t had a kolacky since Ed worked here, which has been several years now.

Those memories of when I tried kolacky for the first time came flooding back to me this weekend as I traveled out of Albert Lea with my family for Kolacky Days in the small city of Montgomery. It wasn’t the kolacky that we traveled for, but a car show we had seen promoted on social media.

We had no idea until we got there how huge that festival is.

Kolacky Days, which has been taking place since 1929, is one of the oldest festivals in the state and celebrates the city’s Czechoslovakian heritage. It takes place the fourth full weekend in July.

We were only there for the classic car show portion of the festival, but to say I was impressed with the turnout was an understatement.

Talk about a successful small-town festival — that place was packed!

In addition to the car show, organizers had a lot of other fun things on the calendar for the weekend, including an authentic Czech dinner, a pageant, a dance, softball and volleyball tournaments, baking contests, demonstrations, a parade,  a kolacky-eating contest, among many other events.

One thing I found particularly interesting on the schedule was a national championship of prune spitting. Funny, right?

I couldn’t get over the pride for that community’s heritage and for that Bohemian delicacy that was clear in that small town of less than 3,000 people. Throughout the day, I saw people dressed up in traditional Czech clothing, and there were people from all over the area who attended.

Looking at some of the coverage of the entire weekend on other news sources, it sounds like that festival is one to beat. Other small towns in the state should take notes on what they do there that makes their event so successful.

And of course if you’ve never tried kolacky before, give it a try  — if for no other reason than to say you’ve tried it.

Thank you

On a completely separate note, I wanted to take a quick minute to thank our longtime Sports Memories writer Chuck Anderson who has retired from writing his column. We enjoyed seeing you in the office each week and wish you the best. Thanks for your many years of dedication.

Albert Lea resident and sports enthusiast Tom Jones is taking the column over starting Saturday.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.