Czech, Please

Best Fests | The month in kolaches.

Even if you’ve never eaten a kolache, you’ve surely seen the roadside signs duking it out for the attention of weary travelers barreling down the highways of Central Texas: “Exit now! Get your kolaches here!” “The very best kolaches are here!” Clearly a claim to fame for more than a few small-town bakeries, these golden rounds of buttery sweet yeast dough with a dollop of fruit or other filling in the middle are a culinary gift from the Czech and Slovak immigrants who began settling here about 150 years ago. And to connoisseurs, they’re serious business. The Legislature designated the town of Caldwell the Kolache Capital of Texas in 1989, then eight years later honored West, kolache mecca for many Texans, as the “home of the official kolache of the Texas Legislature” (whatever that means). Regardless, both towns are getting a run for their money: Kolache bakeries are sprouting up like bagel shops in trendy neighborhoods in Austin, Dallas, and Houston. And each of them has its own version of the perfect kolache. Of course, purists will argue that the true Old World pastry is a large, flat pizzalike confection. And they’ll insist on traditional fillings like prune, cottage cheese, and poppy seed, even as these are fast giving way to such innovations as pesto chicken, jalapeño-cheese, and barbecued beef. But you can judge for yourself this month—and enjoy polka music, folk dancing, and kolache-baking and -eating contests while you’re at it—at these three beloved festivals. Courtney Bond

Thirtieth annual Westfest , West
September 3 and 4
westfest.com

Twenty-first annual Kolache Festival , Caldwell
September 10
bc-chamber.com

Eleventh annual Kolache Fest , Hallettsville
September 24
hallettsville.com/kolache.htm

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