Dawn Svenson Holland grew up in Decorah and was immersed in “all things Norwegian.” It was simply part of family life. Her father, Gary D. Svenson, was one of the original founders of Decorah’s Nordic Fest. He was determined that this festival be an authentic representation and expression of Norwegian heritage. Throughout his service to Nordic Fest over the decades, he remained true to this guiding principle, always an advocate and ambassador for authentic cultural programming.

So after her father’s passing, Dawn naturally felt inspired and compelled to help carry on her father’s devotion to authenticity. Dawn is the author of Nordic Fest: 50 Years Strong, a detailed history of this celebration, published for the fest’s 50th Anniversary. Now, she and her husband have gone above and beyond their commitment to Nordic Fest by sponsoring authentic Norwegian music at Vesterheim during the Nordic Fest weekend each year.

“We’re thrilled to support the continuation of authentic music in the stunning, perfect acoustics of Vesterheim’s Bethania Church in celebration of our beloved Nordic Fest, our beloved Decorah, and our beloved Dad. It is a very real and tangible way that Josh and I can celebrate my father and ensure that his dream of having true cultural events as a component of each Nordic Fest continues,” Dawn said.

“It has been so meaningful to work with Dawn and her husband over the years on this project,” Vesterheim Major Gifts Officer Kirsten Roverud Heine said. “Together, they are now adding a new beautiful chapter to the story her father created over 50 years ago. We are so grateful for their support and vision.”

Dawn Svenson Holland has sponsored authentic Norwegian music at Vesterheim in memory of her father, Gary D. Svenson, who was one of the original founders of Decorah’s Nordic Fest.
Original Nordic Fest organizers, Gary Svenson and Harry Olson, during the fest.