Syttende Mai

May 17

Are you ready for a parade? Vesterheim welcomes you to a Syttende Mai celebration with a traditional Children’s Parade, a performance by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, and other activities.

Syttende Mai is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll.

Now, Norwegians celebrate their constitution with excited crowds, especially children, marching through the streets waving flags, singing songs, and celebrating their nation’s independence. Syttende Mai is a great opportunity to celebrate freedom wherever it occurs.

Thank you to event sponsors Jeff and Marilyn Roverud and Sons of Norway Valdres Lodge #503!

Vesterheim events on May 17 include:

  • 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Museum open with free admission.
  • 10:30 a.m. Guided tours of the museum’s Open Air Division.
  • 12:00 p.m. Gather for the Children’s Parade, at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, on Main Street.
  • 12:15 p.m. Children’s Parade through Decorah with Hardanger fiddle player Eden Ehm, Decorah Nordic Dancers, and Decorah Youth Choirs. The route starts on Main Street in Decorah at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street. Everyone is invited to march along, or cheer from the sidewalks. Norwegian flags will be provided for everyone marching.
  • 12:35 p.m. Vesterheim welcome and Decorah’s Nordic Dancers perform on Mill St. at the museum. Visitors will be invited to dance, too!
  • 1:30 p.m. Guided tours of the museum’s Open Air Division.
  • 2:30-4:00 p.m. Delicious heart waffles and coffee in the Bruening Visitor Center. Free-will offering.

In case of inclement weather, the parade and Nordic Dancers will be canceled, and at 12:30 p.m. Eden Ehm will offer an informal performance of Hardanger fiddle music in the museum’s galleries.

A native of Decorah, Iowa, who grew up playing violin in the Nordic Dancer’s Orchestra, Ehm began studying the Hardanger fiddle with renowned fiddler Andrea Een while at St. Olaf College. A member of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America (HFAA), Ehm enjoys attending workshops, camps, and learning new tunes from other fiddlers. She plays on a 1901 O.G. Haugen Hardanger fiddle made in Krøderen, Norway.

The Nordic Dancers began in Decorah in 1966 and include two groups of dancers—an older one and a younger one. The dancers begin as third graders and make a 10-year commitment to continue through high school. They perform every year at various area festivals and traveled to Norway in 2016.

Under the direction of Andrew Ellingsen and Jennaya Robison, Decorah’s Youth Choirs have been offering fun music education since 2014. The choirs include children of all age groups and the organization partners with local school districts.

Find an album of pictures from the 2016 celebration here.