116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DECORAH — Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, is excited to welcome visitors during Decorah’s Nordic Fest celebration Thursday through Saturday. The main building and museum store will have extended open hours on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Regular hours the rest of the summer are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Museum admission will be free on Thursday, with regular admission prices on Friday and Saturday.
“We can’t wait to show you the newly renovated Heritage Park that includes 12 historic buildings in an open-air setting,” Vesterheim President/CEO Chris Johnson said. “We invite you to wander through time, past and present, along the new paths and plantings.”
The historic buildings will be open for free viewing from noon to 4 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Guides will be on hand to answer questions.
Folk art demonstrations
There will be folk-art demonstrations outside on Friday and Saturday throughout Vesterheim campus and flowing into the surrounding streets, including ale bowl carving, beam carving, acanthus carving, spinning, ropemaking, and more. Jock Holmen and the team of artisans who helped create the beautifully carved portals in Heritage Park will be on hand to show the process of making these timber frame structures. Plus, a Sons of Norway group from Mount Horeb, Wis., will demonstrate Norwegian baked goods in Heritage Park. Folk-art demonstrations are sponsored by Decorah Sons of Norway Lodge.
Music always is a favorite at Nordic Fest and Vesterheim will host some informal music sessions in the Heritage Park amphitheater. Vesterheim Nordic Fest music is sponsored by Dawn and Josh Svenson Holland, dedicated in memory of Gary and DiAnn Svenson.
On Friday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Eden Ehm will play the Hardanger fiddle. A native of Decorah and a member of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America (HFAA), Ehm has studied the Hardanger fiddle with renowned fiddler Andrea Een.
On Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. there will be a Music Jam with participants from a group of amateur players who have met at Vesterheim for years. Drop by to hear some traditional music and learn about the different instruments, the history of Scandinavian tunes, and how oral traditions are passed on through generations.
Genieve Gornichec will give a talk and book signing on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Vesterheim Heritage Park amphitheater. Gornichec is a bestselling author of “The Witch’s Heart,” a gorgeous retelling of Old Norse myths of Rangnrok, the end of the world, and the birth of a new one, through the eyes of Angrboda. This tale is infused with Viking culture, cursed romance, and the strength of motherhood. Sponsored by Vesterheim and Dragonfly Books.
The Skjaldborg Vikings are returning to the fest! This group of authentic and fun re-enactors has camped on Vesterheim’s campus for years, and this year they will be located near John Cline Elementary School while Vesterheim gives the new landscaping time to take hold. Special thanks to sponsors Viking State Bank & Trust.
Also, Steph Anderson, a researcher on historical Viking garments, will be on the Vesterheim campus sharing her expertise.
Family handcraft and language keits
Visit Vesterheim Folk Art School under the timber frame in Heritage Park following the parade on Saturday to pick up a free kit to explore Norwegian handcrafts and learn Norwegian words and phrases. There will be a limited number of kits with supplies for rosemaling, kolrosing, and kroting. Kits are designed for kids ages 8 and older to do with an adult and come with the links to video tutorials prepared by master folk artists.
The special exhibits on view include “New Nordic Cuisine”; “Socially Distanced, Creatively Connected”; and “An Artist’s Journey: Carl Homstad, 50 Years.” Artist Carl Homstad will be on hand to answer questions and share his artwork. Be sure to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award in the “Socially Distanced, Creatively Connected” exhibit.
Continue to check vesterheim.org for more details about plans.
Nordic Fest is held each year on the last full weekend in July and includes fun activities for the whole family. This year, opening ceremonies will be on Thursday evening, July 22, with two full days of activities on Friday and Saturday, July 23 and 24. Traditions new and old abound throughout the weekend. There always is lively dancing, challenging sporting events, delicious food, and lots of other entertainment. Whether or not you have Norwegian heritage, there is plenty to enjoy at Decorah’s citywide celebration of Nordic traditions and heritage! Visit the Nordic Fest website at www.nordicfest.com.
Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the conversation of the American immigrant journey through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience. Vesterheim offers innovative and interactive exhibits, classes, and programs, both at the dynamic campus and park in scenic Decorah, Iowa, and online at vesterheim.org and Vesterheim social media. For more information on exhibits, classes, programs, tours, membership opportunities, and ways to donate and volunteer, connect at vesterheim.org, (563) 382-9681, and Vesterheim, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.