Sveadal's Midsummer Warms the Heart.
By Ted Olsson
What a summer’s day June 20th was in Sveadal for the Swedish American Patriotic League’s 115th consecutive Midsummer Festival. The day was so mild that in the forenoon kids of all ages were festooning the maypole. Rarely has the maypole had such an abundance of flowers. With the raising of the maypole at noon, the Swedish chamber orchestra played familiar folk songs as Jan Nordin sang and Karin Forsell directed the community in circle and line dances. Children and adults held hands as they wove around the maypole or imitated dancing farmyard animals.
The vendors, lining the maypole lawn in their canopied stalls, said it was one of their best days as all of their traditional articles and hand crafted art sold briskly throughout the festival. All the new people attracted to this venerable celebration marveled at how they had only just learned of this Swedish heartland tradition. Families who had packed a lunch spread out on their blankets, and those who didn’t bring a picnic were able to purchase kraftor och aquavit as well as other foods and summer beer at the outdoor Midsummer Café. As always, picnic tables welcomed dozens of Swedish organizations to host their members, people meeting old friends and new acquaintances while feasting upon potluck delicacies.
After lunch there was time for toddlers to play at the playground and for other youngsters to play tennis or horseshoe while many of the adults relaxed in the swimming pool or visited on the sunny lawn or shaded grandstand. Several dozen newcomers took advantage of the Sveadal tour to learn the history of this special spot or visited the clubhouse to appreciate all of its memorabilia.
And soon it was time for the Zaida Singers' prelude to the official program, a serenade which gathered people on the lawns flanking the stage in front of the clubhouse.
Following tradition, the program began with the Parade Marshall leading the color guard with flags and marching musicians. Those in folk costumes followed the Maids of Honor, Columbia (Caitlin Wallin), Svea (Tori Anderson), and the Queen with her crown and train bearers.
After the welcome by SAPL President Michael Nichelini, Queen Marta Weissenborn was crowned by her parents, both past presidents of the League. A children’s choir from Silicon Valley’s Svenska Skolan preceded the presentation of Columbia. Honorary Consul General of Sweden Barbro Osher’s official greetings from Sweden’s king and government were offered before the presentation of Svea. Then the Zaida Singers sang Swedish melodies before the Maids of Honor in the Queen’s Court were introduced. With that the audience fell in behind the recessional parade to the maypole where young and old once again danced around for another fun-filled hour.
As twilight approached, a delicious dinner was served in the clubhouse, after which all descended upon the large dance floor nestled among the redwoods for dancing until midnight. Many retreated either to their cabins in Sveadal or to their homes, and others retired to their campsites. Early the next morning, they were awakened by Sveadal hosts with coffee and pastries.
One and all—hosts, residents and visitors—enjoyed this long tradition in lovely Sveadal, passing on this legacy for another year to our youth.