Bechyn Czech Heritage Festival moves to online concert Aug. 9

Paul Hunter Zaid
The 29th annual Bechyn Czech Heritage Festival will be held online this year due to COVID-19 recommendations. The online festival is set to be held Aug. 9 on Facebook page "Bechyn, Minnesota World."

The 29th annual Bechyn Czech Heritage Festival will be held as an online concert and fundraiser rather than on the grounds of St. Mary’s Church this year due to COVID-19.

The online event will feature recording artists and Czech Fest favorites Mollie B and Ted Lange, to be held Aug. 9, 2020, from 7-8 p.m. The concert will be broadcast live on Facebook at “Bechyn, Minnesota World,” with the duo playing favorites and taking requests throughout the concert.

The digital format will allow friends all over the world a chance to come together and celebrate Czech heritage and continue the mission of preserving the historic church which is located in Bechyn.

History of Bechyn

In 1867, just two years after the Civil War the area now known as Bechyn was settled. The small settlement was named after Bechyne, Bohemia, a village in what is now known as the Czech Republic.

In 1880, the dream of having their own parish church, several families each donated five acres of land for the construction of the church of St. Mary of Bechyn. The original church in Bechyn, began construction around 1880, taking two to three years to complete.

By 1890, the parish numbered 60 families. Needing a larger church for their growing congregation, a new church was built in 1915.

Never officially incorporated, Bechyn was a thriving rural community for many years. There was a blacksmith shop, post office and two general stores.

Continuing through the decades of the 1920s to 1960s the church of St. Mary’s flourished along with the community of Bechyn. Due to the declining number of parish priests, it was decided by the Diocese of New Ulm that the church of St. Mary of Bechyn was to close in 1992.

The final Mass as a parish was held June 28, 1992. A group of parishioners came together and formed the St. Mary’s Preservation Committee for the purpose of preserving St. Mary’s by carrying on the traditions and love of the ethnic heritage.

St. Mary’s Church building and grounds are still used as a community center, and it is the home of the annual Czech Heritage Festival held the second Sunday of August. 

Proceeds from the festival are used for the preservation of the church and grounds.

Czech Heritage Festival

Located 13 miles southwest of Olivia, surrounded by corn and soybean fields, Bechyn has been the home of the Czech Heritage Festival for the past 29 years.

Once a year, on the second Sunday of August, visitors travel to Bechyn to celebrate and remember their ancestors and reconnect with family and friends, but one doesn’t need to be Czech in order to come and enjoy the day.

Due to the federal and state recommendations with COVID-19, the St. Mary’s Preservation committee wanted to ensure the safety of guests and moved the festival online this year.

This year’s online only festival will feature Mollie B and Ted Lange playing favorites and taking requests while they are joined by special guests.

Although not the same as in years past, this online format will allow for friends from all over the world a chance to come together and celebrate Czech heritage and to continue the preservation of St. Mary’s in Bechyn.

This year’s Czech Heritage Festival is scheduled to be held Aug. 9 from 7 - 8 p.m. on the Facebook page “Bechyn, Minnesota World.” The 30th annual Czech Fest will return to Bechyn Aug. 8, 2021