Sons of Norway Solvang Lodge celebrates 100-year anniversary
Kathy Anderson & Corky Olson
Sons of Norway Solvang Lodge
On April 23, 2016, more than 160 people met at the Timber Coulee Rod and Gun Clubhouse where the Westby Chamber Viking ship greeted them for the 100-year anniversary party of the Westby Sons of Norway Solvang Lodge #5-457. Westby Elementary School Folk Dancers, led by Sara Nestingen, performed during the social hour to start the festivities.
After SON President Sandra Iverson and Westby Mayor Danny Helgerson welcomed attendees, Blaine Hedberg, Solvang Lodge member and Secretary of the Board of Governors of the SON Foundation, presented Sandra with a grant award from the foundation to help with event expenses. Elizabeth Erickson, Solvang member, led the singing of the national anthems of the United States, Canada, and Norway, followed by a table prayer led by fellow member Rev. John Spidel-Stennes. A delicious feast was catered by Borgen’s Café with a dessert of cupcakes with red, white, or blue icing displayed as Norwegian and American flags and pieces of a traditional kransekake served by the Syttende Mai royalty.
After the meal, Brian Rude, former Wisconsin State Senate President and a member of the Solvang Lodge for 35 years, served as master of ceremonies as well as keynote speaker. He opened the program with remarks about the founding of the lodge, in April 1916, by 22 women of the Daughters of Norway. Brian went on to explain that in 1926, the Dale Gudbrand Sons of Norway Lodge was founded. The two organizations merged in 1950 to become the present Solvang Lodge #457. In the beginning, members were required to be of Norwegian heritage or be married to a Norwegian, but Brian shared how the lodge has evolved so that today, anyone interested in Norwegian culture is invited to join. Solvang currently has over 100 members. Elaine Lund and Florence Holen, both present at the celebration, join Brian in being members for over 35 years. A nod was also given to very active, long-term members Evelyn and Orin Larson, as well as Wilmer Homstad who could not attend.
Four past presidents of Solvang Lodge were present and introduced by Brian: Russell Hanson, Myron “Buddy” Rundhaugen, Gary Daines, and Ron Iverson. Brian also recognized members of the anniversary committee for their tremendous efforts as well as all current officers of the lodge.
Many SON dignitaries were present. Jon Tehven, International President of the Sons of Norway, shared that his wife declared Dregne’s as the best Scandinavian shop. International Directors Jon Grinde and Ray Knutson, with SON District 5 President Owen Christianson, shared Ole, Lena, and even a few Sven jokes. All expressed heart-felt congratulations to Solvang on this extraordinary achievement.
A colorful bunad and folk costume parade followed the speakers with President Sandy describing how each design represented a different region of Norway. The audience then joined in to sing Norwegian songs, printed in the program, as Buddy played his accordion. Final bids were entered for the silent auction items, coordinated by Diane Piper, which included beautiful rosemaling pieces, Norwegian tapestries, books, artwork, and more for a very successful fundraiser.
Throughout the event, attendees could enjoy the Solvang display of a huge Norwegian map showing heritage farms of members and a table display of SON historic artifacts and pictures from the past 100 years.
Solvang Lodge would like to thank everyone already mentioned who made this such a memorable event. Special additional thank yous are extended to Evelyn Larson for her cover artwork on the program and table decorations, Karen Hankee for her creation of the Viking ships table decorations and the beautiful Viking ship on the buffet table, Peter Leum for making lefse, Mark Jelenik for his sound system, the many donors of the silent auction, Kvarnstrom’s bakery for the delicious and beautiful kransekake, Cedric Veum for computer work and design, Corky Olson for setting up the heritage table, Janet Johnson for coordinating the building of many little ships and to the Anniversary Committee, chaired by Margaret Veum, for all their hard work. The event was captured in photos by David Torgerson and on video by Roger Hansen. Both will be shared on Vernon Communications Channel 14 and will also be kept in the Solvang Lodge library to be shared for the next 100 years.
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