Scandinavian heritage has deep roots in the lakes area, and the Sons of Norway-Vikingland Lodge is setting out to reinvigorate the region's Viking spirit by establishing a new cultural festival.
This Sunday, March 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Vikingland Lodge members will host a Scandinavian Festival at Trinity Lutheran Church (1401 Madison Ave., Detroit Lakes). The event will feature Norwegian artifacts; an opportunity to learn how to make various Norwegian treats like lefse, krumkake and flatbrød; discover Scandinavian crafts such as hardanger, rosemaling, wood carving, and making bentwood "tine" boxes - and so much more. "We used to do summer festivals," says Vikingland Lodge member Dorothy Hoover, who is co-chairing the inaugural winter festival along with Carol Turner. "One year we even had a wedding; it was my daughter. She rode in on a horse led by the groom... another year, we had a fiddle contest."
"We also had rock and log throwing contests," Turner added. "We had food booths out on the street (the festival was held downtown). One of the things we sold was lefse dogs - hot dogs wrapped in lefse."
"We did that for nine years," Hoover said. "The 10th year, the city wouldn't let us block off the street, so we moved it to the city park at the council's request - but it wasn't nearly as successful."
This year, the group decided that they wanted to try a winter festival instead.
"We started working on it last summer," said Hoover. "Our pastor at Trinity, Jillene Gallatin, asked Carol if we could do something like this there, and have the Sons of Norway sponsor it."
The original plan was to hold it on Feb. 4 - "but nobody wanted to do it on SuperBowl Sunday," Turner said.
"So we rescheduled it for one month later, on March 4," Hoover added, noting that the group decided to hold it on a Sunday, so the church-going crowd could simply stay after services to enjoy the festivities - though it's free and open to the public as well.
"We have no idea if 50 people will come, or 300," Turner said, "but we're planning for about 250."
In addition to all of the aforementioned activities, the midday event will also include live Norwegian music and dancing, prize drawings, and displays of Norwegian artifacts.
"These artifacts are items that our members' ancestors brought over from Norway," Turner said. "They're real antiques."
"We want people to get a real taste of Scandinavia," Hoover added. "For lunch, we'll be serving soup and open-faced finger sandwiches."
"Open-faced sandwiches are a longstanding tradition in Norway," Turner said. "Folks from the Lodge will also be demonstrating how to make lefse and krumkake - with samples - and almond cakes."
"Anything with almond flavoring is very Norwegian," Hoover added. "There will also be rosettes, flatbrød (Norwegian flatbread), and of course, lots of crafts."
Vikingland Lodge: A brief history
Founded on Nov. 4, 1969, with 139 charter members, Vikingland Lodge is the Sons of Norway chapter for the Detroit Lakes area.
Some of those charter members are still with the organization today, including Norma Jean Grotnes, Kathryn Haddeland, Alice Hammer, Gudrun Harstad, Margaret Maki, Lois Wisted, and Rollie Kjos - who was the lodge's first president.
Besides the midsummer festival, some members also remember other Norwegian celebrations in the 1970's and early 1980's, around Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day, celebrated on May 17 each year) and Christmas. At the time, all three local banks would host mini events with Norwegian treats and goodies, demonstrations, and traditional Scandinavian folk dancing.
The Vikingland Lodge also hosted skiers from Norway, about 40 at a time, that would come and ski with members at Maplelag. During these visits, they would also visit the schools to talk to the kids about life in Norway.
The local Vikingland Lodge has also played a significant role within the international organization of the Sons of Norway, sending zone directors to represent the area within the International organization. Current Vikingland Lodge member Bob Hoover has served as both District 1 president and then as an international director for Sons of Norway. The Sons of Norway, Vikingland Lodge meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. Meetings are held at Union Central Senior Living, 307 Lake Ave, Detroit Lakes. These gatherings feature programs to learn more about Norwegian culture, gather with fellow Norwegians and partake in various activities. Outside of the monthly meeting members gather for cultural exploration through folk arts like rosemaling, hardanger embroidery, and wood carving, to name a few.
Any area residents interested in joining this organization are welcome to attend the meetings. For more information, please visit the Lodge's website, www.sonsofnorwaydl.org. For more information about Sunday's festival, please contact Dorothy Hoover at 218-849-2275 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Carol Turner at 218-234-8887 or email@example.com.