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25 years of Kolache Day: Czech baking competition raises money for Kimball pool

Tierney Reindl, 7, Addyson Dorwart, 4, and Isabella Selthun, 14, pose with awards won at the 25th annual Kolache Day in Kimball on Saturday. (Ellen Bardash / Republic)1 / 3
A sign made by the Lenz family of Kimball welcomes competitors and bidders to the 25th Kolache Day. (Ellen Bardash / Republic)2 / 3
A car show on Kimball's Main Street has accompanied Kolache Day for the past 10 years. (Ellen Bardash / Republic)3 / 3

KIMBALL — For people in Kimball, the annual Kolache Day event is a way to combine residents' shared heritage with fundraising for a cause.

Kolache Day was held for the 25th time on Saturday in Kimball's town square. The 25 batches of kolaches entered this year were judged and then auctioned off to raise money for Kimball's community swimming pool. With each entry of a dozen kolaches selling for between $10 and $75, John Lenz, who organized the event with his wife, Ann, estimated that Kolache Day generated over $500 for the pool.

"It's a big Czech community," Lenz said. "Everybody's grandma made (kolaches) growing up, and everybody's is a little bit different."

Differences include variation in filling, how the kolache dough is folded and whether or not frosting is used.

"My grandma made these in the Depression, so there was no frosting and no sugar," Lenz said.

Kolache Day was started by Sally Houda, whom the Lenzes started helping about 16 years ago. They eventually took over when Houda was no longer able to organize the event. While Kolache Day began as a standalone event, a car show has been held concurrently on Kimball's Main Street for about a decade.

Lenz said that most of the kolache entries are made by people who live in and around Kimball. But this year, eight dozen kolaches alone were submitted by Rita Selthun, who was in town from Minnesota and had entered the competition during two previous Kolache Days.

Selthun's entries included kolaches with strawberry-rhubarb, apricot, prune and poppyseed fillings, and she made two dozen of each flavor. Half of each flavor of kolache was folded with the dough left open at the top.

"It always goes for a good cause, and I just recently retired and I like to bake," said Selthun, whose daughter and family live in Kimball.

While none of Selthun's kolaches took home awards this year, kolaches made by two of her granddaughters, Addyson Dorwart, 4, of Kimball, and Isabella Selthun, 14, of West Concord, Minnesota, placed third and second, respectively.

First place went to Adley Reindl, 10, of Kimball, whose sister Tierney accepted the award, as he was unable to attend.