Nestled in Central Europe between Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic, you will find the landlocked country of Slovakia. With a population of roughly 5.5 million, Slovakia is a land of beautiful rolling hills, castles, and picturesque red roofed cities and villages. Considering its diminutive size, there is a rich Slovak culture that has developed right here in the Kansas City area.
Slovaks are frequently lumped into the larger ethno-linguistic group of Slavs, which also include the likes of Poles, Czechs, Russians, Croatian, Serbians, and more. A Slavic presence began to develop in this region in the early 1900s, when migrants left their respective homelands and headed to the banks of the Missouri River in Sugar Creek, Missouri. The promise of work, education, and religious freedom appealed to many Slovaks, who likely craved autonomy after a long history of being ruled by other foreign powers. In fact, Slovakia didn’t gain sovereignty until 1993.
Ever since Slovaks started getting settled in Sugar Creek, their culture and traditions have added richly to the diversity of Kansas City. A great place to start this Fall would be at Slavtoberfest, which will take place on October 2-3rd this year. Another popular event that draws thousands of visitors each year is the Slavic Festival. Though it was cancelled this past year, it will likely be back soon! Visit the Sugar Creek Slavic Festival webpage for more information and events.
If you’d be curious to learn more about or join a year-round performance group, the Sugar Creek Tamburitzans, Sugar Creek Ethnic Dance Troupe, and Kolo Kids all perform traditional Slavic dances and music. You can find more information about these on the Slavic Festival website
Fun fact – Ross P. Marine is an honorary consul of the Slovak Republic that resides right here in Kansas City. In his role, he has promoted and encouraged business, cultural, educational, and international exchange between the Midwest and Slovakia.
If you are looking for additional ways to get involved with the Slovak community here in Kansas City, taking a trip to the Strawberry Hill Museum would be a great place to start, so take a look at their events calendar. Finally, you can also join the Czech and Slovak Club, which describes itself as “a social and cultural club for those who appreciate Czech and Slovak cultures and traditions.” It’s open to both persons of Czech or Slovakian descent as well as those who enjoy the social, cultural, and educational activities of the organization.
For over a century, Kansas City’s Slovak presence has enriched our local community. From dances and festivals to food and art, take advantage of some of the opportunities listed above to get involved!