NewsPositively Central Texas


WestFest is Back: History of West Museum shares the importance of keeping their Czech Heritage alive

Posted at 10:24 AM, Sep 01, 2023

WEST, Texas — WestFest was founded in 1976, but Czech immigrants have migrated to Texas since the mid-1800s — and this weekend it is all about sharing the love for their community.

Since he was a little boy, Al Vanek has traveled to West, spending hours listening to bands play their traditional songs.

"There was no air conditioning so we stood outside and listen to the bands and we use to listen to them for 6 to 8 hours at a time," Vanek said.

Following in his grandfather's footsteps by becoming a musician when he was 18 years old, Al got the opportunity to perform at the very first WestFest.

"I performed for a number of years and then we took a break and continue to perform now, so it's been an adventure, but it has been interesting and rewarding," Vanek said.

As the founder of the History of West Museum, his mission is to continue to pass down the Czech heritage traditions to future generations.

Ray Vanek, Al's son, shares why his father continues to inspire him and their community to continue this amazing tradition.

"The reason for WestFest was really to create monies for the community, but it has continued to grow where thousands people from all over come to listen to Czech bands and other bands, but they come all over to listen and it has become a tradition," he said.

They hope the thousands of people who are coming to town to celebrate leaves with a little bit of what makes West special to them.

"That is how we keep the heritage alive it is when we talk about making it a Polka or a Waltz or anything in the Czech language is very important," Ray said.

For more information on the schedule events for WestFest 2023, you can visit their website here.