Heading to Nordic Fest? Make sure you can speak the lingo

Here's a primer to help you along the way

Members of the Luren Singers wave Norwegian flags from their float on Saturday in Decorah during the 2011 Nordic Fest parade. (Bryon Houlgrave/Freelance)
Members of the Luren Singers wave Norwegian flags from their float on Saturday in Decorah during the 2011 Nordic Fest parade. (Bryon Houlgrave/Freelance)

DECORAH — Snakker de norsk? (Do you speak Norwegian?)

If the answer is “nei” (no), never fear. We’ve got the lingo you’ll need at the 50th annual Nordic Fest in Decorah. The event kicks off Thursday and continues through Saturday.

The following is a collection of words and expressions you might want to know before heading out.

Lykke til! (Good luck!)


Rosemaling — Decorative painting. See examples at the Vesterheim museum, where rosemaler Turid Helle Fatland and fiber artist Britt Solheim demonstrate making sheepskin coverlets and the work of rosemalers is to be on display Friday and Saturday.

Psalmodikon — A stringed instrument. See a demonstration at the Vesterheim museum Friday and Saturday. Skjadborg — “Fortress of Shields.” Also the name of a historic re-enactment group from Elk Horn. Check out full Viking combat demonstrations at their encampment outside the Vesterheim museum throughout the weekend.

Trolleri — Magical fun. The Trolleri Players, a high-energy musical duo, is providing wandering entertainment throughout the festival.

Bunad — Folk costume. See authentic Scandinavian costumes at a bunad show at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hotel Winneshiek.


Elvelopet — The festival’s annual River Run, a 5K walk/run and 15K run, starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Kanolopet — A canoe race, this event traverses the Upper Iowa River Friday.


Molkky — A yard game that involves throwing a wooden baton at pins to accumulate points, popular in Finland. Try your hand at a tournament at 5 p.m. Friday.

Badeland — Water park. If the weather is hot, kids can cool off at the Troll Badeland at the Northeast Iowa Montessori School.


A variety of Scandinavian food is offered for sale at booths on Water Street, where cooking demonstrations also are planned. Here are a few things you might find:

Kringla — Soft buttermilk cookies.

Kranskake — Norwegian wedding cake.

Rommegrot — Porridge with sour cream.

Krumkake — Curved cake, baked on a special iron and rolled into a cone shape while still hot.

Lefse — Thin potato pancake.

Lutefisk — Cod soaked in lye. Enthusiasts attempt to down as much as they can at a lutefisk eating contest at 3 p.m. Saturday at Courthouse Square.

— Compiled by Alison Gowens



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