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Vesterheim Activities at Decorah’s Nordic Fest

July 23 @ 9:00 AM - July 24 @ 5:00 PM

Vesterheim Activities at Decorah's Nordic Fest

July 23-24, 2021

Welcome back to Vesterheim!

View and print a PDF of Vesterheim activities and demonstrators here.

We’re excited to have you visit on July 23-24 during Decorah’s Nordic Fest celebration. The Main Building and Museum Store will be open on Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (regular hours the rest of the summer are 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.). All other activities will take place outside. Museum admission will be free on Thursday, July 22, with regular admission prices on Friday and Saturday.

We can’t wait to show you the newly renovated Heritage Park. Wander through time, past and present, along the new paths and plantings. The historic buildings will be open for free viewing from 12:00-4:00 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Guides will be on hand to answer questions.

Are you not able to make it to Nordic Fest this year? Join the fun through some live streams on our Facebook page or here.

Folk Art Demonstrations 

There will be folk-art demonstrations 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, Wisconsin, will demonstrate Norwegian baked goods in Heritage Park. Folk-art demonstrations are sponsored by Decorah Sons of Norway Lodge.


Music is always a favorite at Nordic Fest and Vesterheim will host some informal music sessions in the Heritage Park amphitheater.
• On Friday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Eden Ehm will play the Hardanger fiddle. A native of Decorah, Iowa,  and a member of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America (HFAA), Eden has studied the Hardanger fiddle with renowned fiddler Andrea Een.
• On Saturday from 1:00-3:00 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.
Vesterheim Nordic Fest music is sponsored by Dawn and Josh Svenson Holland, dedicated in memory of Gary and DiAnn Svenson.

Author Talk and Book Signing

On Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Vesterheim Heritage Park amphitheater, with Genevieve Gornichec, bestselling author of The Witch’s Heart, a gorgeous retelling of Old Norse myths of Ragnarok, 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.

Special Exhibits

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.


The Skjaldborg Vikings are returning to the fest! This group of authentic and fun reenactors has camped on Vesterheim’s campus for years, and this year they will be located near John Cline Elementary School while we give our 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 Kits

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+ to do with an adult and come with the links to video tutorials prepared by master folk artists.


Continue to check back as we share more information 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 is always 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 here.

Find an album of pictures from the 2019 Nordic Fest here.


Do you want an insider view of Nordic Fest? Volunteering at Vesterheim during the Fest is always a great way to make connections, have fun, and support the museum. We are always looking for support welcoming guests, hosting galleries, giving demonstrators a break, delivering treats to other volunteers, and more. Contact Martha Griesheimer, Coordinator of Volunteers, at 563-382-9681 ext. 305, or mgriesheimer@vesterheim.org.


July 23 @ 9:00 AM
July 24 @ 5:00 PM
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