A lot of ethnic heritage festivals hope to transport visitors to a different time in history, using costumes and re-enactments.
The Czech and Kolache Festival in Kewaunee County aims for the taste buds, and brings visitors back to their childhoods with a treat straight from their grandmother’s kitchen – the kolache.
Over the course of two days they will sell 12,000 kolaches, all of them made by a crew of volunteers the night before. They are led by the Queen of Kolache, JoAnn Vogel, “It takes more than a village for this project, it takes a city.”
The work starts a few days before the festival, when JoAnn and her crew gather to make the fillings. Over the course of a day they’ll fill an industrial refrigerator with buckets of apricot, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb, prune, poppyseed and raspberry filling.
According to Vogel, there are no shortcuts to the perfect kolache and her apron has a saying that bears that out, “Without work, no kolaches.”
The real work starts Friday evening. A kolache is made from a sweet raised dough. “A double batch of kolaches is nine cups of flour, one cup of milk, one cup of buttered-flavored Crisco, six eggs, a cup of sugar, three tablespoons of yeast and a half cup a water- that goes into your dough- that will make 100-105 kolaches. One double batch,” says Vogel.
Every batch is mixed by hand. “We tried that big dough mixer in the kitchen, and I tried one batch in there and then we dumped it. I said, shut it down this is not quality,” says Vogel.
After the dough lifts the cover off the bowl, it’s time for some more handiwork. “Every kolache we make, hand cut, hand rolled, no one does all of that anymore. That’s why I think we are very popular,” says Vogel.
Learn more about the history of Kolache.