Scandia, MN-The month of June has a richness of celebrations in Minnesota for Swedish Americans. Numerous midsummer poles are decorated and raised with great gusto and participation from audiences. There are concerts, art shows, folk music festivals, traditional food, singing, and plenty of Scandinavian marketplaces where one can make yearly purchases of wood carving, folk costume components, felted goods and hand knit wear, T-shirts, and home baked goodies.

The Gammelgården Museum in Scandia, MN was one such location for a merging of arts, crafts, shopping, exhibits, song games, and performers. On June 22 well over 200 participants joined in the fun around the midsummer pole, took part in Tips Promenad (An organized walk through the community, answering questions at set up "stations"), organized by Designs of Sweden, a modern Scandinavian gift shop in Scandia, enjoyed a traditional meal together, and listened to performers such as troubadour Joel Karlsson from Wilhelmina Sweden, who shared Swedish traditions through music.


Neighboring towns that hosted Swedish performances were Cambridge, Chisago City, and North Branch with the Scandinavian Saxophone Quartet, Rush City, which hosted Bjärv, a trio with nyckelharpa, guitar, and fiddle, and Mora, which raised a midsummer pole with the Vasa Junior Folk dancers of the Twin Cities. An ongoing Nordic art exhibit continues at the Cambridge Center for the Arts, featuring works by Elof Wedin, a Swedish immigrant to Minnesota from the 1930s. The art center has recently been given over 200 pieces of his work in the abstract expressionist and cubist periods.

Each event is success due to the many volunteers who help to make it possible, whether that be to go out and gather birch branches to dress the majstång, spend time in the kitchen baking Swedish treats, organizing the children’s craft activities, setting up the chairs and the sound system, or serving the food. Good ways to get more closely connected to one’s heritage is to find a group nearby and offer to help. The jobs often put volunteers together so they can visit, exchange family stories and report on visits to the home places in Sweden. All of this helps to strengthen the heritage community and ensures that it will thrive and be a welcoming place for the next generation.
By V. S. Arrowsmith
Photographs by V. S. Arrowsmith

Celebrating 41 years in 2013: Gammelgården Museum in Scandia Minnesota