Family Fun under the Beer, Brats, Bingo, & Polka Tents

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence

When you grow up with deep German and Czech roots there is always a steady stream of pilsner and tube sausage at any family gathering. But as a child, the summer highlight was when the “best ofs” were brought out for the annual church festival.

This tradition is still a summer favorite I now enjoy with my kids in my dad’s hometown of New Prague, Minnesota. So here’s the question of the day, should you add this to your end of summer bucket list?  Heck yeah! Here are the top tips for navigating a German/Czech festival:

  1. Head to the Beer Tent - Won’t be hard to find. Typically located in the most important location (near Bingo and Polka Tents).
  2. Enter into the Bean Bag Toss Tourney - There is nothing better than a “sporting” event where you could play a 9 year-old or 90 year-old in any given round and lose. Also it’s a game that can be played with beer in hand.
  3. Winner winner Chicken Dinner - At this point you’ve worked up an appetite, there is nothing better than slow roasted chicken and mashed potatoes served in an oh so practical leftover foodservice box.
  4. BINGO - Swing by the beer tent again and then test your luck (at $0.25 a card) at the best family game around. The only concern here is missing the rest of the festival by getting too comfortable and excited by the random “big” money wins of $5.00.
  5. Put Your Polka Pants On - Now that you are good and rested, you’ll be drawn to get out on the dance floor with young and old alike. Where else can you bust a move with a concertina leading the beat?
  6. Kolacky’s at the Bake Sale - 
    1. A trademark Czech pastry that can be made sweet or savory! By the end of the bake sale, you may be low on variety, but it will be high on value. Let’s just say you are covered for breakfast for at least the next week!
    2. The real challenge is you will fall in love Kolacky’s! If you are near Montgomery Minnesota, you can head to 98 year old Franke’s Bakery that has been dubbed the “Kolacky Capitol of the World”.  
    3. Or try your hand at making this tasty treat yourself with one of my favorite Kolacky recipes.

Poppy Seed Kolacky

Dough Ingredients
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
5 1/4 cups sifted flour
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour sifted


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and let stand. Heat milk in saucepan until pretty hot to touch, almost scalding. Remove from heat and stir in butter or oleo and 1/2 cup sugar. Cool to lukewarm and add yeast mixture.
  2. In large bowl combine salt and 5 1/4 cups flour. Add the yeast and milk mixture to flour and mix. Mix in egg yolks. Mix in enough of last cup of flour for desired texture. (workable, not too sticky to take out of bowl and knead). Knead on floured board until glossy.
  3. Grease bowl. Put dough in bowl, rolling it around to grease dough. Cover and let it rise in warm place until double in bulk. Roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into individual kolackys with biscuit cutter. Place on greased pan so not quite touching. Brush with softened butter and let rise again covered until light to touch. Make indention in each and fill with filling of your choice.
  4. Bake in 375 degree oven until brown, about 25 minutes. Remove and brush with softened butter.

Poppy Seed Filling Ingredients
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup ground poppy seed
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp butter 


  1. Heat milk and when it boils add sugar, flour and poppy seed, stirring vigorously. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Add butter, then add vanilla.
  2. Cool filling before adding to kolacky dough. Spoon about one teaspoon filling in each kolacky.

Glaze Ingredients
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp milk


  1. Combine ingredients. Spoon over kolackys while still warm.