Premier Harvest Dozinky Czech and Slovak event canceled
By Emma Palova
Bannister, MI- With a population of 100 nestled amidst the wheat fields of Mid-Michigan, the little town of Bannister carries on a proud Czech legacy dating back to 1906.
The first Czech immigrants were recruited by the Ann Arbor Railroad to help construct a river channel along the railroad tracks north of Bannister. Later they worked in the surrounding sugar beet fields. At one time, Bannister had two churches, one bar, an auto shop and a trade dealer. All that remains today is the post office.
“The newcomers to the area felt the need for some type of club or lodge of their own,” Tom Bradley wrote in his “Pamatnik.”
Josef Drtina traveled by horse and buggy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Michigan and secured enough members to start a new lodge in Bannister on October 1, 1911.
Today, the ZCBJ Lodge #225 is 1,000 members strong with a signature dance group led by Diane and Tom Bradley. The couple started the Bannister ZCBJ Czechoslovakian Folk Dancers in 1976. The dancers have all been dancing since they were each two years old.
Tom also plays polka music on WOES-FM Ovid-Elsie Community Radio-home of the Polka Palace. The music streams on the following link:
Although it’s staple event- the “Harvest Dozinky Festival”- has been canceled this year again due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lodge will have other events such as the upcoming “Walk for Hunger” on Aug. 8th.
“We think we might have our bazaar this year,” said Diane. “I don’t know about the other events. We go day by day.”
Annually, the lodge holds a bazaar on the last Saturday in October. Other events include: a fall dinner, Mikulas and Cert on the first Sunday in December, a mid-winter jamboree in February.
The Bradleys run the temporary Czech and Slovak Bakery in nearby Ashley from mid- November leading up to Christmas during the Polar Express event.
According to the Czech tradition, the bakery offers rohliky and poppy seed rolls.
“We grew up with the tradition, the language, the music and the food,” said Diane.
The ZCBJ Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ZCBJ-Lodge-225-BetterLife-126739624091965
Feature photo: ZCBJ board members: Bob Ladiski, Sally Stoll, Tom Bradley, Ed Fornusek, Joanne Fornusek, Ruth Malek, Diane Bradley.
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