Modern Royals: Western Members Share Czech-Slovak Heritage Pride in Roles of Queen, Princess, and Little Sister

Modern Royals: Western Members Share Czech-Slovak Heritage Pride in Roles of Queen, Princess, and Little Sister

Mar 03, 2020

Across the United States, pageants are held for young people to celebrate and promote their Czech-Slovak heritage. Western is proud to have No. 389 YELL! members Kelsey Zoubek, Monica Zoubek, Jordyn Stearns, and Sage Zoubek holding titles in regional competitions. We asked Katie Zoubek (mom to Kelsey and Monica, and No. 389’s Correspondent) and Beth Zoubek (mom to Sage) to help us learn about the pageants and about their daughter's experiences.

About the Pageants


2015 Pageant Queens from various states and
their Little Sisters.

Czech-Slovak pageants are held at local, regional, state, and national levels. Every state has different rules. In Nebraska, the active Czech chapters include Butler County, Clarkson, Dwight, Lincoln, Omaha Czech Cultural Club, Panhandle, Prague, South Central/Slovak Society, Wilber, and York. The requirements are the same for the chapters to be a Nebraska Czech Queen that are participating in the Nebraska State Miss Czech-Slovak Queen Pageant held in Clarkson in June.

Nebraska queen requirements include being a Nebraska resident, between ages 16 to 26, attending high school or graduated from high school or GED, and partial Czech or Slovak descent (or adopted by parents of descent). Once crowned Miss Nebraska Czech-Slovak, the queen represents the state at the national pageant in Wilber,

NE.Nebraska awards include talent performance, authentic kroj, Americanized kroj, private interview, heritage interview, Miss Congeniality, and runner-up. 

Nebraska Czech Prince and Princess represent the various chapters and support their queen. They do not have a pageant, and each chapter has their own rules of selection. For example, in Wilber, princes and princesses do not need to be of Czech-Slovak descent, but other chapters require a partial lineage.

Being a Little Sister is a one-time event unless your queen is crowned Miss Czech-Slovak US Queen, first, or second runner-up. Three little sisters get to return the next year with their queen if their queen is one of the three to be crowned. If their queen is crowned Miss Czech-Slovak US, the little sister is also crowned on stage.

Both the Wilber Czech Festival and Miss Czech-Slovak US are held the first weekend in August, in Wilber, NE. State queens come from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and California to the national competition.

South Central Nebraska Czech Princesses Kelsey and Monica Zoubek

Jordyn Stearns (back row, with crown), with Monica
and Kelsey Zoubek pose with YELL! members in 2019.

Kelsey and Monica Zoubek are South Central Nebraska Czech Princesses for 2020/2021. They are 100% Czech twins, and 11-years-old. Their role is to support their Queen and participate in Czech events and festivals representing South Central Nebraska Czechs. They were able to become familiar with being royalty, as they had previous experience as Little Sisters in 2015 to Minnesota Czech Queen Elizabeth Kaliska. They love being Czech and promoting their heritage through parades, participating in activities, and volunteering at Czech Festivals.

They like being South Central Nebraska Czech Princesses for many reasons. They enjoy going to monthly meetings. After each meeting, they have Polka music which the girls love. The chapter values their opinion and includes them in everything. For example, their chapter gives the girls a choice with their kroje, as you can wear the one you have or buy a new one. The twins decided to wear the kroje they had, which was purchased and hand-embroidered by volunteers at the local Wilber Czech Craft Store.

Kelsey and Monica also love that they can promote their Czech heritage without being overwhelmed and needing to give up other things they enjoy. The girls are currently in the sixth grade at Wilber-Clatonia School. In school, they participate in choir, band, volleyball, reading classic, and are honor roll students. Monica also plays basketball. They are both involved in community activities too. They are in 4-H where they enjoy quilting, baking, gardening, photography, and crafts. They are active No. 389 lodge members and the lodge’s YELL! group. They are also members of the Czech Dancers.

Kelsey and Monica said their Czech heritage is important to them because they get to celebrate their family Czech traditions through baking, cooking, genealogy, and heritage activities. Their family has been very supportive and helpful. They learned how to bake kolace, dumplings, sauerkraut, and rosette with their grandma Shirley Zoubek and mother Katie Zoubek. They learned a secret Czech recipe, and how to cure/smoke sausage and meat processing from grandpa and grandma Randy and Shirley Zoubek, father Brian Zoubek, and uncle Andrew and Russ Zoubek. They learned to quilt and sew with grandma Sharon Jelinek. Kelsey and Monica are working on a genealogy book for a 4-H project. They have visited with great-grandma Gladys Burda about Czech heritage, family, and traditions. Their cousins, Karen Hunt and Ed Kasl, also helped with the family tree. The twins, with help from family, will shape the future by promoting and teaching what they have learned to future generations to preserve their Czech heritage.

South Central Nebraska Czech Queen Jordyn Stearns

Jordyn Stearns (center) with Monica and Kelsey
Zoubek at the October Czechfest, 2019.

Jordyn Stearns is the South Central Nebraska Czech Queen. As a queen, she represents the chapter at other Czech events. Katie Zoubek commented, “Queen Jordyn is a great role model and the girls love to follow her example of getting youth involved in the Czech dancing and including everyone.” She will be competing for the first time in the 2020 pageant at Clarkson, NE in June for a chance at the title of Miss Nebraska Czech-Slovak Queen. She has been wearing an Americanized kroj that was purchased thirty years ago at the Wilber Czech Shop, and is the third generation to wear this particular kroj. Jordyn is looking into her Czech genealogy/regions, and may have a new kroj for the pageant in Clarkson.

Jordyn likes learning about her Czech heritage and learning about her Czech ancestors. She is honored to be representing and contributing to preserving her Czech heritage.
Jordyn is 21-years old, and a senior at Doane University studying business administration. She is also on the track team (shot put) and received all-American last year, and all-conference the last two years. She is on the softball team, where she earned second team all-conference her sophomore year, and first team all-conference her junior year. Jordyn is also a No. 389 YELL! member.

2018-19 National Little Sister Sage Zoubek

Sage Zoubek is an active YELL! member of No. 389. She was 9-years-old (currently 10-years-old) when she became a Little Sister to the ranking Nebraska Queen, Janae Buckley from Omaha, in 2018. Janae Buckley went on to compete for the national title in August 2018. She was crowned 2018-19 Miss Czech-Slovak US Queen. Sage was also crowned, as Miss Czech-Slovak US Little Sister.

As Little Sister, Sage accompanied the queen. Sage said, “I loved being a Little Sister because I got to meet new people and I also learned more about my heritage from my queen. Janae and her grandma restore kroj, and she taught me a lot about the meanings of colors and decorations on the kroj. Janae wore three authentic kroje at the pageant and in parades.”

Sage's Czech heritage is important to her. She learned about family who traveled from Czechoslovakia, and how they became established in America. She has also learned many recipes and traditions from her Czech heritage. She wears an Americanized kroj that features some authentic Czech lace, ribbons, and decorations. The heart on the back of her vest symbolizes the love she has for her heritage.

Royal Responsibilities


2018 Miss Czech-Slovak US Little Sister
Sage Zoubek and Miss Czech-Slovak US
Queen Janae Buckley.

Sage Zoubek was chosen as a Little Sister in the summer of 2018 to accompany the Nebraska Queen. Together, they made appearances at the Wilber Czech Days. Sage helped her queen, and passed out programs to pageant attendees. She was crowned on stage as Miss Czech-Slovak US Little Sister at the national competition in Wilber, NE in August of 2018.

Jordyn Stearns, Kelsey Zoubek, and Monica Zoubek were chosen as 2020-21 royalty by the South Central Nebraska Czechs in July of 2019. They attended the Saline County Fair, Western Picnic, Wilber Czech Festival, and York Czechfest to promote their Czech-Slovak heritage and represent their chapter. In Wilber and Western, the South Central Nebraska Czech Royalty got to go through the parade. In Wilber, the twins attended the Royalty Reception at Wilber-Clatonia School, danced several times throughout the festival with the Junior and Senior Czech Dancers, and marched with the W-C band at the Wilber Children's Parade. In York, the royalty and No. 389’s YELL! group taught several youth to dance to Czech songs where they performed on the dance floor at the event. The twins also got to Senior Czech dance in Lincoln, NE at the Cornhusker performing for the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International. In 2020 there will be many Czech Festivals and parades to attend and promote their Czech heritage.

Special Thanks

We thank Jordyn Stearns, Kelsey Zoubek, Monica Zoubek, and Sage Zoubek for contributing their thoughts and promoting Czech heritage in so many ways. We thank Katie Zoubek and Beth Zoubek for organizing and providing the information used in this article, and for supporting the young ladies in their roles.

Category: Czech Connection

Cindy Motsinger

Communications Coordinator

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