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Vesterheim Activities at Decorah’s Nordic Fest

July 27, 2018 - July 28, 2018

Vesterheim Activities at Decorah's Nordic Fest

July 27 & 28, 2018

This Decorah city-wide festival is held each year on the last full weekend in July and includes fun activities for the whole family. Traditions new and old abound throughout the weekend. There is always lively dancing, challenging sporting events, delicious food, and lots of other entertainment. Opening Ceremonies will be on Thursday, July 26.

Vesterheim’s activities will include The National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition, folk-art demonstrations and sales, performances, special guests, and more.

See specific details in the highlights below!

To learn more about Decorah’s plans for the fest, call the “troll-free” hotline at 1-800-382-FEST, or visit Nordic Fest.

Find an album of pictures from the 2017 Nordic Fest here.

Would you like to enjoy Nordic Fest from the inside?

Become a Vesterheim volunteer by downloading a Vesterheim Volunteer Help Form.


Download and print this list of Vesterheim activities here.


Delicious “Hearts of Goodness” by Nordic Waffles! Stine Aasland, the “Waffle Queen,” and her company Nordic Waffles will be selling these delicious treats on Water St. in front of Vesterheim’s metalworking classroom. Nordic waffles are different from American and Belgian waffles and resemble the texture of a crêpe. A meal in themselves, they will be served with sweet or savory toppings—delicious!


  • Musician Arna Rennan (in Vesterheim’s Bethania Church at 3:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday) – Arna grew up hearing Norwegian songs in her home and later moved to Norway, where she studied at the Institute of Folk Culture in Telemark. Her performances give audiences a glimpse of the magical real world of folklore and traditional folk music with ‘stev,’ ballads from the middle ages, overtone flute, and langeleik. This concert is dedicated to the memory of Gary D. Svenson (1939-2005) by his family.

  • Center for the Study of Upper Midwest Cultures present 50 Years of Folk Music at Nordic Fest (in Vesterheim’s Bethania Church at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday) – Anna Rue, Marcus Cederstrom, and Nate Gibson from this center at the Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, tell us all about the history of the Folk Music Festival, held during Nordic Fest starting in 1968. They’ll highlight some of the archived festival recordings and talk about their project at the university. Find more info about Vesterheim’s connection to the Folk Music Festival in this Vesterheim magazine article here.

  • Skjaldborg, from Elk Horn, Ia. – present their Viking encampment in Vesterheim’s Open Air Division. They will entertain throughout the day Friday and Saturday with full Viking combat demonstrations. Skjaldborg means “fortress of shields.”

  • Film Screening: Album (in the Viking Theater on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.) – An introduction to Norwegian photographer Knud Knudsen’s world of images, produced by the Norwegian Film Institute. Knudsen (1832-1915) is considered one of Norway’s most important photographers.

  • “Ole Oleson” – portrayed by living history presenter Roger Hellesvig from Minneapolis, will be in Vesterheim’s Haugan House from 12:00-4:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. He’ll bring the story of Norwegian immigration to life with storytelling and conversation.


9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday (unless noted)

  • The National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition, a judged show and sale of exceptional pieces of knifemaking, metalworking, rosemaling, weaving, and woodworking by contemporary American artists. Find more info here. Sponsored by Decorah Bank and Trust.
  • Folk Art School Demonstrators in courtyard outside the Main Building. Students and instructors of Vesterheim’s Folk Art School demonstrate a variety of folk arts. Find a list of these demonstrators and their schedules here.
  • Living Heritage Demonstrators: Blacksmithing and forging by Tom Latané; knifemaking and leatherwork by John Drewes; spoon carving by Derek Brabender; stave container construction and decoration by Owen Christianson and Elspeth Christianson; post and beam carving by Jock Holmen; Medieval aluminum coins by Bart Saxton; and Viking-age jewelry by Alec Tunheim. Sponsored by Decorah Bank and Trust.
  • Woodworking by Phil Odden and Else Bigton.
  • Woodworking by Becky Lusk.
  • Rosemaling Demonstrations Nancy Schmidt, Os style (11:00-1:00 on Friday); Ruth Green, Rogaland style (1:00-3:00 on Friday); Pam Rucinski, Swedish painting from Dalarna (3:00-5:00 on Friday), Nancy Odalen, Ryfylke style (11:00-1:00 on Saturday); Jean Giese, Telemark style (1:00-3:00 on Saturday); and Teresa McCue Thompson, Telemark style (3:00-4:30 on Saturday)
  • Filigree jewelry making by jeweler Liz Bucheit and Michael Seiler (Saturday only).
  • Ropemaking demonstrations by Dick Enstad (periodically).
  • Psalmodikon (stringed instrument) demonstrations by Beatrice Hole (afternoons only).
  • Langeleik (stringed instrument) demonstrations by Arna Rennan (Saturday morning only).
  • Beautiful woodcut prints of the Decorah area by popular local artist Carl Homstad (Saturday only).
  • Country Gallery Antiques, specializing in Scandinavian antiques—textiles, jewelry, decorated woodenware, sewing tools, kitchenware, prints, and painted furniture.
  • Vesterheim Ribbon-Winning Rosemalers Sales Shop, with rosemaling for sale by Vesterheim ribbon-winning artists.
  • Oneota Weavers and Spinners Guild Sales Shop with hand-felted Santas and Christmas ornaments/figures, hand-woven rugs, scarves/shawls, table runners, and more.
  • Vesterheim Museum Store: Open 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Sweaters, jewelry, folk art, cooking supplies, books, and more.

Plus, the Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naeseth Library gives advice on family research, and Norway House from Minneapolis will have an information booth!

The Norwegian-American newspaper shared this article about the 2016 event. It was great fun to have them visit.


July 27, 2018
July 28, 2018
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