Get out your accordion and don your Bohemian best for this month's Czech Festival. One of the greatest small town parties in the state takes place July 26 to 28 in Wilson.

The town, just south of I-70 between Salina and Russell, celebrates its ethnic heritage each year on the last weekend of July. The 52nd annual festival will actually start a day earlier than usual this year, giving visitors three days to find a way to take part in the fun.

Wilson has been known as the “Czech Capital of Kansas” since the mid-1970s. It was in the mid- 1870s that an influx of Czech immigrants came to the area to work on the railroad. The area also has a Pennsylvania-Dutch flavor, which gives Wilson a unique cultural heritage.

This year’s festival theme is “Rockin’ on the Wild Side,” which may not conjure up images of traditional eastern European culture, but gives a nod to the battle of the bands set to take place on Friday night. Rest assured. There will be plenty of polka, Czech dancing and queen contestants in folk costumes to celebrate the area’s history. You can also enjoy some favorite more modern traditions in Kansas like tractor pulls and carnival rides.

What: 52nd Annual Czech Festival

Where: Wilson, Kansas

When: July 26 to 28, 2012

More info: Check out a video from last year's festivities

Weekend Highlights

Czech dinner, Friday July 27 at 5:00 pm

Czech dancers, Friday July 27 at 6:30 pm

Ice Cream Social, Friday July 27 at 7:00 pm

Battle of the Bands, Friday, July 27 at 8:00 pm

Czech run or walk, Saturday, July 28 at 8:00 am

Parade, Saturday July 28 at 10:00 am

Czech Fest Midway, Friday and Saturday

City of McPherson Pipe Band, Saturday at 12:30 pm

Kansas Czech Queen Pageant, Saturday at 1:30 pm

Polka Mass with The Pavelka Band, Saturday at 4:00 pm

Polka Dance, Saturday July 28 at 8:30 pm

Becky Blake is the Director of the Kansas Travel & Tourism Division, and has been involved in the Kansas tourism industry for the past 30 years. The TravelKS Blog provides a brief update from Becky each week, featuring communities, events and attractions throughout the state.