Czech and Slovak Heritage Tours
I, Mark (Vasko) Bigaouette led my first group into the newly freed (then called ) Czech and Slovak Federated Republics in 1992. I had no intention of getting into the tour business. People in our ethnic community kept saying to me, your so involved, your love of our heritage is so strong, you love history, the culture, the people - you should be taking people overseas! For the first two years I did one tour a year. My real job was being a direct care worker with the mentally handicapped. It was a very challenging job, and I loved it. However trying to get time off work to do these tours started to get harder and harder.
In 1994 and 1995 we had two tours each year. All my involvement within the ethnic community really started to take
its toll. I had to eventually go to part time at my real job in 1996. This gave me the time to make great changes to the tours. I started working with a new travel agency in Prague. We went on three tours that year, and 4 tours in 1997. Besides my own tours I also set up tours for other travel agencies and family groups. Which I no longer do, all my friends and contacts in Europe all have real jobs. They can no longer take off of work to show off the culture they love. To make sure they keep their jobs and don't burn out, they do all these unique things for my Heritage tours ONLY anymore.
We believe in the philosophy "do what you love to do" I don't want to turn doing my tours into a grind, always on the go. I love showing people the rich and wonderful culture of my heritage. That heritage that thrives with the traditions and folk festivals found in the countryside. Many of my native friends call me the biggest nationalist they know of. I am extremely proud of them, and my background. I have been told I live for taking people to places I adore. I attend many Czech and Slovak events, Conferences, festivals, history workshops, etc. I have helped plan many of these events as well. ( and co-chaired one in Florida ) I read plenty of history books, and have been told I am a walking encyclopedia.
In the fall of 1998 I was honored to be chosen as the official tour organizer of the National Czech & Slovak Museum
& Library's 25th Anniversary gala tour of the Czech & Slovak Republics. For more information about the Museum,
see the web site at :
www.ncsml.org - or write to:
30 16th Ave.
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-5904
Personal biography for Mark Vasko-Bigaouette
My grandparents Joe Vasko & Mary Kubicek were married in Letohrad, East Bohemia and came to the US in 1929. My mom, Marcella could only speak Czech when she started school in New Prague Minnesota. I grew up hearing Czech, eating Czech food, and listening to stories about the old country. I enjoyed this so much, I wished more people could learn about their heritage. Towards this goal I founded the "CzechoSlovak Genealogical Society International" in 1988. I was its President for the first 10 years. Then a member of the Board of Directors, for another 6 years. It has grown to one of the largest ethnic organizations in North America. (almost 4000 members) Thanks to a great group of dedicated volunteers! I am also involved in our local "Sokol" the home of our ethnic community. We have ethnic dinners & dances, an adult & children's dance group, Etc. I also belong to lots of ethnic Czech & Slovak groups in many states. The preservation of our ethnic heritage is very important to me.
Heritage Tours Inc.
13948 Square Lake Trail
Stillwater, MN 55082-9398
Phone # 651- 426-1222
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November 1st, 2013