CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Members of the Sokol Cedar Rapids unit that traces its history back to 1873 brought back a longtime tradition to celebrate its sesquicentennial.
The group hosted a pork and dumpling dinner on June 17, 2023, complete with its namesake menu items, plus sauerkraut, applesauce, rye bread and kolaches, a favorite fruit-filled Czech pastry.
Lead kolache baker Dorothy Ditch said about a dozen people helped with both the kolache-baking and making dumplings, another Czech favorite.
Dumplings, at left, are ready to serve during the Sokol Cedar Rapids 150th anniversary celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Customers at the celebration also received a 150th anniversary coffee mug, designed by master Czech folk artist Marj Nejdl, a longtime Sokol member who volunteered with others to serve food at the event.
Current and past members shared photos, patches, buttons and other memorabilia from the group’s 150-year history in Cedar Rapids to display at its Sokol Gymnastics Association hall.
Much of that history was washed away 15 years ago, when unprecedented flooding hit Cedar Rapids in June 2008, just as Sokol Cedar Rapids prepared to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its downtown building, constructed in 1908.
Photos, programs, rosters and other memorabilia moved for a display to the first floor of the historic building was inundated with 4 feet of floodwater.
Only later were members allowed to retrieve items left in the third floor, some of which were on display in Sokol’s relocated site at 5200 18th Ave. SW, where the dinner was held.
A Sokol diploma is among items on display at the group’s hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
The former Sokol building, 417 Third St. SE, fondly remembered by generations of gymnasts and the site of previous pork and dumpling dinners, has since been repurposed.
Sokol, a Czech-based social and gymnastics organization, has its roots in what is now the Czech Republic, where it was founded in 1862.
Immigrants brought the tradition to the United States, with a local Sokol unit starting in Cedar Rapids 150 years ago.
Sokol — the Czech word for “falcon” — is based on the concept of a “Sound Mind in a Sound Body,” offering physical training in gymnastics and other athletics, as well as providing cultural awareness and family-oriented activities.
A 1929 photo of Sokol gymnasts was among items on display at the Sokol Cedar Rapids sesquicentennial celebration.
Sokol Cedar Rapids hosts gymnastics classes and other events, including the Sokol Western District’s Annual Slet in April, where nearly 70 gymnasts from Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa competed.
A slet, which roughly translates to “a flocking of birds,” is a gathering of Sokol members who compete in gymnastics.
Cedar Rapids was the site of the American Sokol National Slet and Festival, in June 2017.
To inquire about gymnastics classes, Sokol cook books or for other questions, call (319) 362-1632.
More: See photos from the National Slet ceremonies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and more photos from the sesquicentennial celebration, below: