Nordic Fest at Vesterheim
DECORAH, Iowa— Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum will be bustling with activity during Decorah’s 43rd Annual Nordic Fest, which kicks off with opening ceremonies on Thursday evening, July 23, and runs through Saturday, July 25. Vesterheim will have special events all day on Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25.
Vesterheim’s “National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition” will be on view July 20-25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Visitors can enjoy this exceptional exhibition of knifemaking, rosemaling, weaving, and woodworking by some of the best contemporary American artists free-of-charge. Many of the pieces will be for sale by silent auction. Wennes Communications in Decorah has generously donated advertising for the exhibition.
This year’s Nordic Fest theme, “Northern deLights,” honors the Sami, the native inhabitants of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Kola Peninsula, and many Vesterheim events will center on the Sami.
Have you ever wanted to meet a real reindeer? The Dancing Reindeer Herd, Milltown, Wisconsin, will visit Vesterheim. Friendly reindeer from the Dancing Reindeer Herd was established in 1985 and the herd is one of the largest in the lower 48 states of the United States. These reindeer have been in New York City’s Christmas pageant and in the 1994 movie Miracle on 34th Street. They will be in the Nordic Fest parade and in the museum’s Open Air Division for everyone to visit.
This year, Vesterheim and Upstart Crow’s original children’s theatre production will be “Land of the Midnight Sun,” an exploration of the Sami people and their way of life. The program is sponsored by Nick and Elida Rowley and Rowley Trial Law Firm.
Vesterheim will display images and objects of Sami culture from the museum collection in the exhibition, “Sami,” on the second floor of the museum’s Main Building.
Returning this year from Knox City, Missouri, is Sam Shoults and his Viking ship replica, sponsored by Viking State Bank & Trust, Decorah. The Viking longship called “Yrsa” is 27 feet long and six and a half feet wide. Shoults will tell visitors about his many adventures, including sailing Yrsa down the Mississippi River.
Vesterheim is pleased to welcome the group, “Skjaldborg,” from Elk Horn, Iowa, sponsored by Voltmer, Inc., Decorah, and Viking State Bank & Trust, Decorah. “Skjaldborg” is an old Norse word that means “fortress of shields.” Come and visit their full Viking camp in the museum’s Open Air Division to see how Vikings lived. They will entertain with full combat demonstrations.
Of course you won’t want to miss folk-art demonstrators from Norway and the United States; the Living Heritage Demonstrators partially sponsored by Sons of Norway Valdres Lodge #503 in Decorah; Ibsen theatre; the exhibitions “Knitting along the Viking Trail” and “Flashback: Norwegian Landscapes in Retrospect;” and special presentations!
Nordic Fest is a celebration of the spirit of Scandinavia, and includes fun activities for the whole family. Traditions, new and old, abound throughout the weekend. There will be lively dancing, challenging sporting events, delicious food, and lots of other entertainment. To learn more about other aspects of the fest, call the “troll-free” hotline at 1-800-382-FEST, or check out the Nordic Fest website at www.nordicfest.com.
Vesterheim uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. The museum cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city.
From May 1 through Oct. 31, Vesterheim is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. From Nov. 1 through April 30, Vesterheim is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays and is closed Monday. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, consult Vesterheim’s website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 523 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.