Culture, cookies, and camaraderie

Viking Spirit United shows in multiple ways at district convention in Coeur d’Alene

Photo: Bill Solum Marit Kristiansen (left) on accordion and her husband Kjell, far right, dancing amid the crowd for Hospitality Night.

Photo: Bill Solum
Marit Kristiansen (left) on accordion and her husband Kjell, far right, dancing amid the crowd for Hospitality Night.

Barbara K. Rostad
Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

Culture, cookies, and camaraderie encapsulated the entire District Two Sons of Norway Convention hosted in Coeur d’Alene by Harald Haarfager Lodge this past month. The successful event attended by over 140 delegates at Coeur d’Alene’s Best Western Plus was chaired by Pamla Silk, local lodge secretary and also secretary for the district’s Trollhaugen Board, which oversees the recreational center near Stampede Pass.

Delegate gifts, table decorations, embroidered aprons worn by convention workers—even cookies of Viking helmets—the theme Viking Spirit United permeated this event in multiple ways, both visible and invisible.

Repeating the theme they used for hosting the Sons of Norway International Convention in 2010, lodge members concentrated on bringing the concept to life again in fresh ways. Immediately setting the tone was a Viking ship dragonhead made by Post Falls resident Mel Knutson and placed near the registration area.

Photo: Barbara K. Rostad A Viking Ship Dragonhead and its creator Mel Knutson of Post Falls, Idaho.

Photo: Barbara K. Rostad
A Viking Ship Dragonhead and its creator Mel Knutson of Post Falls, Idaho.

Viking Spirit transcends time and place and applies to “those who dare to seek new horizons.” Viking Spirit United also reflects the host lodge’s namesake, Harald Haarfager, first Viking king to unite all of Norway. Today it is through uniting its efforts that Sons of Norway can fulfill its mission to promote and preserve Norwegian heritage.

Choosing purple to honor the Idaho huckleberry, the lodge ordered aprons embroidered with “Viking Spirit United” for convention workers to wear. The aprons were visible every day of the convention; the invisible part was their donation to the lodge by a member’s business. That too is Viking Spirit United—working together to achieve goals.

Table decorations featured Viking ships on two occasions. One evening the sails of the ships displayed photos from District Two’s history, showing the Viking Spirit that continues today through all the lodges, not just through exploration in the Viking era. For the final banquet fresh flowers replaced the sails and masts.

Delegate gifts included a drawing of a Viking ship originally made for the Spokane lodge in the 1970s and duplicated now for the 2016 lodge representatives; a pack of note cards with Viking designs created by a former Disney artist from another Sons of Norway district whose widow gave them to Harald Haarfager Lodge; and a temari ball, red with blue and white ribbons like the Norwegian flag, each handmade and donated by Vickie Nelson, District #2 Treasurer from a lodge in Washington. The Japanese tradition of beautiful thread balls dates back about 1,500 years. They were originally used in ball games but now function as ornaments and gifts.

It is not just the Viking themes in these gifts but the giving itself of artistic work by their creators that defines the concept Viking Spirit United.

Ditto for the intricately decorated Viking cookies, which came from another lodge, as did hundreds of dozens of all kinds of cookies. This deluge of cookies occurred in part because the International Convention is also in District #2 this year. Similar letters went out from both groups asking for cookies. Some thought two letters meant “We’re desperate for cookies” and they obliged. At the close of the convention, a donation to Trollhaugen garnered homeward bound folks some cookies for the road, yet another instance of Viking Spirit United.

Photo: Bill Solum Viking helmet cookies were among the multitudes of baked goods delivered by the community.

Photo: Bill Solum
Viking helmet cookies were among the multitudes of baked goods delivered by the community.

For an evening dinner cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene, delegates were encouraged to wear Viking garb while they plied the scenic waters of a lake not unlike Norway itself.

Among the many treats at Friday’s Hospitality Night was Slate Creek Brewery’s “Norse Nectar,” brewed in true Viking tradition with juniper leaves right in Coeur d’Alene by two brothers with Norwegian heritage.

This evening is traditionally presented by the Alaska delegation in lieu of ever hosting a convention so far north and by members from the host lodge of the next biennial convention. Another traditional highlight is accordion music by past International President Marit Kristiansen, who attended as a delegate from her home lodge in Anchorage. People enjoy singing and dancing to the peppy tunes.

Prior to her role as the second woman ever to hold the top position in Sons of Norway, Kristiansen had been District Two President, District Two Director on the International Board, then Vice President. She also received the Woman of the Year Award at the 2016 Convention. Her counterpart, Man of the Year, was Bill Fosmoe, another past President of District Two and long-term Treasurer for the International Board.

Photo: Barbara K. Rostad Convention Chair Pamla Silk puts on her best Viking face for the cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Photo: Barbara K. Rostad
Convention Chair Pamla Silk puts on her best Viking face for the cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Competition in a variety of categories of Norwegian folk art is another feature at district and international conventions. The Cultural Room displays all the entries, which include chip carving, Hardanger embroidery, knitting, needlepoint, rosemaling, and much more.

Another cultural dimension was added during the President’s Reception, when about 30 women and men participated in the bunad parade, relaying the story of each. That evening the Coeur d’Alene Big Band provided music for listening and dancing.

In addition to culture, cookies, and camaraderie, there was also business to be conducted. This included electing officers for the next biennium and delegates to the International Convention in Tacoma this August.

New President Chris Hicks has extensive Sons of Norway experience, not only having served as vice president but also working tirelessly for the three Sons of Norway camps in the district. Filling her previous slot as vice president is Gerald Erickson, Bremerton, while Mickey Andrew, Alaska, continues as secretary and Vickie Nelson as treasurer. Immediate past President Mark Agerter advanced to District Two International Director.

Three past international presidents attended the convention: Ted Fosberg, Mercer Island, and Marit Kristiansen, Anchorage, both District Two, and Dan Rude, District Four, Missoula, Mont., current International Secretary. Sons of Norway CEO Eivind Heiberg participated as well.

Barbara Rostad, a North Dakota Norwegian, has been writing for The Norwegian American since 2014. A versatile writer with degrees in journalism and sociology plus teaching experience in sociology, English, and speech, Barbara has published articles and poems, edited newsletters, compiled a book about Ski for Light, and received writing awards from Idaho Writer’s League. A 45-year member of Sons of Norway, she’s often both newsletter editor and cultural director.

This article originally appeared in the July 1, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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