The 40th annual Scandinavian Retreat was held February 15 to 17 at the Beaver Creek Reserve in Falls Creek, WI, just 12 miles outside Eau Claire. Featured Norden Folk speaker this year was Viktoria Borgessen, a stand-up comic with a nyckelharpa, who proposed the notion of researching the significance of Ole and Lena jokes in Scandinavian-American history. Besides lectures there were a variety of program items such as Icelandic group singing, woodcarving, band weaving, a Nordic film and the winter competitions of axe casting and kick sled races.
Lectures and presentation titles included “Finnish Cultural Difference," “How Finns Swear and What it Says About their Culture,” “Folkekunst en vogue: Influences of European Styles on Norwegian Folk Art, Post-Renaissance to the Napoleonic Era” and “Sweden’s Forestry Industry.” Jim Leary, director for the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, presented on his Fulbright semester as a scholar in Iceland, in which he studied folkloric traditions for a project called Labor Lore: The Culture of Icelandic Working.
To round out the weekend, a panel discussion provided participants with information about how to use their Scandinavian Studies degrees after college. Marcus Cederstrom focused on maximizing Swedish and American backgrounds for getting work in Sweden. Tim Cochrane talked about his work with August Strindberg’s five chamber plays. Colin Connors shared how his studies took him to Iceland and Norway. David Natvig talked about working in Norway on an international linguistics projects focused on recorded speech and subsequent coding and transcriptions. The Swenson Center’s Archivist Lisa Hultsha, of Augustana College, talked about her work and the pathway to her job.
The participants remembered the late Norden Folk president Jerry Revelle by naming the outdoor contests in his memory, hence, “The Jerry Revelle axe casting and spark sled race competitions.” Revelle died in early January, after having served on the Norden Folk board for more than a decade.
Norden Folk sponsors the retreat. For more information visit the Norden Folk website at

By Valorie Arrowsmith