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Gammel Dag highlights its Norwegian heritage

By Kirsten Zoellner

Mon, Jun 11th, 2012
Posted in Peterson Arts & Culture

Just as in the “Good Old Days,” this weekend’s Gammel Dag festival in Peterson will bring revisit countless forms of Scandinavian heritage, including arts, dance, and games through modern interpretation.

The Vesterheim Museum, of Decorah, Iowa, the single oldest, most complete museum in the country devoted solely to the Norwegian-American way of life, will be on hand, demonstrating along with Peterson’s own Boddy Pederson and Ray Kjos, of Rushford, as well as four, distinct artisans. The artisans, all members of the Nisse Rosemalers, who seek to preserve and promote the Scandinavian arts, will be featured beginning at 10am, Saturday, June 16, and continue until 4:30pm.

Included is rosemaler Barb Hagelie, who took her first lesson in the late ‘70s. She’s been hooked on the detailed, decorative painting ever since. Hagelie crafts her art in the Rogaland style, featuring flowers, as opposed to scroll and leaf-heavy designs. The asymmetrical patterns showcase the flowers in opaque colors on dark backgrounds and utilize cross-hatching, dots, and teardrops in the finished work. Hagelie heads up the Rosemaling Shop at Nordic Fest and has won numerous champion awards for her efforts.

Basket weaver Jean Schutte, a retired farm homemaker who started weaving more than 25 years ago, will also be on hand to demonstrate her art. Having honed her skill in the Amana Colonies and from top midwest weavers, Schutte has passed on her love of weaving to numerous groups, including at the Vesterheim Museum, where her classes fill up immediately. In addition to basket weaving, Schutte is a skilled rosemaler and wood and chip carver.

Artists Mary Althouse, another retired farm homemaker, was first introduced to working with wood back as a youth in the 4-H program. Today, Althouse’s love is the art of Kolrosing, a distinctive wood decorating method. The extensive process begins as a knife is pushed across the selected piece of wood, leaving a line. Then, ground coffee or walnut dust is finely pressed into the lines, after which the piece is sanded and sealed, leaving an intricate design.

Last, but certainly not least, will be Bev Schrandt, a retired utility home economist and multi-talented artisan. Bev’s two main art expressions are wheat weaving and hardanger. Schrandt has been weaving wheat into beautiful creations since her oldest daughter was in 2nd grade and had a Scandinavian unit in school. She has taught every 2nd grader since in the last 30 years. Her woven ornaments can be seen throughout the midwest. Schrandt will also be showcasing her hardanger talents. The unique embroidery traditionally utilizes white thread on a white, even-count textile. “If you can count to five, you can learn Hardanger” encourages Schrandt, who is willing to share her hardanger secrets.

“Artist in many forms will be present to demonstrate their skills and answer questions,” notes fest coordinator Gayle Boyum. “Bring your lawn chair and mover from artist to artist to take full advantage of this new feature of the fest!” Rosmaling, hardanger, woven baskets, chip carving, Kolrosing, and wheat weaving items will all be available to purchase during Saturday’s Gammel Dag festivities.

If a toe-tapping event is more your style, Decorah, Iowa’s Nordic Dancers will bring traditional Norwegian dance to the streets of Peterson. The dancers, comprised of a junior and senior group, “help us remember the traditional folk dances of Norway.” The committed dancers audition as third graders and are in the junior group for five years prior to moving to the senior group. Begun in 1966, the groups have performed in various locations around the country and some have participated in tours abroad. The Nordic Orchestra, a group of talented youth musicians will accompany the dancers. Two performances are slated; 11:15am and 12:15pm, Saturday.

For those more adventurous types, perhaps the Kubb games are more to your liking. The competitive outdoor game, ancient and dating back more than 1000 years, is “literally sweeping the world, known as the game for everyone.” The “romanticized” version of the game’s history claims it was devised by Vikings as a way to pass the time between pillaging. While this might be somewhat true, or at least give us a chuckle, the most agreed upon theories believe it did begin in Scandinavia, but that is was likely created by woodsman using cutoff pieces of firewood, since Kubb literally translated means, “block of wood.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, but still curious, a standard Kubb set is made of solid wood and consists of 21 pieces, including one king, four corner sticks, six throwing batons, and ten knights or Kubb blocks. The basics of the game are easy to grasp, even for the youngest of dullest wood block among us; knock over all of your opponent’s knights and then the king, using the throwing sticks. Anyone may participate in the Gammel Dag Kubb games or tournament, with teams having 2-6 members. Registration for the tournament is $12 in advance or $20 at the door. The winning team will receive a Kubb set. For more information contact the city at 507-875-2222 or at petersoncity@acegroup.cc. Registration forms and instructions are available online at: http://www.petersonmn.org.

There is also still time to get in on the weekend’s other fun. To register a softball/baseball team for the tournament contact Chuch Eidenschink or Rod Anderson. To register for one of the three guided bicycle tours, contact Gayle Boyum at the number and email address listed above. To register for the parade contact Julie Boyum at julieb@winonanationalbank.com to sign up.  Last minute entries will be accepted.

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