MARAK — Friends and family got together Sunday for the annual Homecoming Picnic at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Marak.
Jeannine Dohnalik, kitchen co-chairman, said her staff sold out of about 2,200 plates by 1:30 p.m. They always do, she said, but usually by about 3 p.m.
They fried 4,000 pieces of chicken and cooked 800 pounds of sausage and 36 roasters of cornbread dressing, she said. Cecilia Marak, the other co-chairman, said they prepared 550 pounds of coleslaw.
The homecoming began with a 10:15 a.m. Mass. The kitchen opened at 11 a.m. and games started at noon. There was a horseshoe tournament, music in the pavilion by the Praha Brothers and a live auction in the parish hall.
The picnic is like a large family reunion, Dohnalik said, with several generations attending. Members of many other parishes also come to support the picnic, she said.
Her husband, James, worked in the kitchen, as did her daughter and son-in-law, Suzanne and Todd Doskocil, who live in Cyclone. Their youngest, Bella, 5, worked at her first picnic, her grandmother said. The other two Doskocil children, Gracie, 12, and Carter, 9, also had tasks.
Suzanne said she was born in Marak and got married there. She and her sister, Emily Dohnalik, made a quilt for the live auction. Their sewing circle of about seven women, the “Marak Stitch Witches,” she said, made another quilt for the auction. The group has been making quilts for the auction since about 1990, she said.
It takes about 80 hours to sew the top of a quilt and about 100 hours to quilt it, which is tedious, Suzanne said.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
Gene Vaculin, who has lived in Marak all his life, was in charge of the auction, aided by his brother, Tommy Vaculin.
“Normally we raise about $15,000,” he said. “I’ve done it for 50 years. I started when I got out of high school. Our family kind of took it over. Here in these little parishes when you start at something you’ve pretty well got it for life.”
He and his wife, Judy, have three daughters who have all moved away, but were all helping with the picnic, he said.
His cousin, David Vaculin, handled the money for the auction, he said.
“It gets real hectic at times,” he said. “We just slow down a little bit.”
Alfred Vrazel, 79, said he was born on a farm down the road. His father was an immigrant to the community in December 1903, he said, coming from Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic.
“This church opened in 1904,” he said.
The Vrazel Polka Band, which started playing in the 1950s, retired in 2008, he said. They played all over the state and in several polka festivals in Las Vegas. He and several other musicians in the parish sat in with the Praha Brothers for a few numbers.
Vrazel still has his polka radio show on KMIL 105.1 FM in Cameron every Sunday afternoon.