Midsummer Day, a day after the summer solstice, beamed upon all in Sveadal as the Swedish American Patriotic League produced its 119th consecutive annual festival. From dawn til midnight it was warm and enjoyable, quite different from a typical Swedish midsummer. The crowd was very large and fun-filled.
The maypole had been wrapped in layers of leaves ready for the opening. Many, especially those with young children, came early so the kids could festoon the maypole with flowers. The kids always begin on the top side of the pole but everyone must be reminded that when it is raised even the bottom side must be decorated. So, kids and adults all enjoy lying down on the job and placing the flowers underneath.
While kids were working on the pole, everyone else was looking over all the goods at the marknad of Swedish vendors. Susan Bianucci made sure there was a wide variety of items and that each vendor’s offerings were unique and didn’t create bidding wars. So, all of the vendors were friendly with each other; many look forward to this day, not merely for selling to their target audience, but for participating in such a wonderful tradition.
Most of the attendees carpool with numerous friends and park in the large, prepared field. Some with elaborate tents drive down the steep road to the campground beside the creek. Others with campers stay overnight in the field.
Once admitted and banded, all attendees can use the tennis courts and swimming pool, spread their blankets and watch their children scramble on the kids’ equipment. Fika with good, strong coffee and baked goods is tempting as are the barbequed snacks at the Midsummer Café. But within a couple hours the pole is laden with flowers and its pendant floral rings. Soon enough the call goes out for strong men to lift the pole upright. And within a minute the pole is upright and secured, just as noon strikes.

Dancing around the Maypole
This is the moment all have been waiting for: when parents, kids and lovers all hold hands and dance round and round the pole as snuffling pigs or acting out the week’s chores. Dressed in Swedish provincial costumes, Karin Forsell leads all in the dances as Jan Nordin sings the traditional joyful Swedish songs, to the accompaniment of Kikki Nordin and Carolyn Anderson.
An hour of fun-filled dancing and laughing can build up quite an appetite. So, by the end of the noon dancing everyone ambles back to their picnic smörgåsbord. Tables are heaped with all the traditional dishes, always with something new or different from American cuisine or that of a family’s other heritages. And of course all that food slides down so well with one dram or many of personally-brewed akavit as snatches of snapsvisor echo through the picnic grounds or shaded plots of lawn.
Fred Bianucci led several dozen visitors to the historic and cultural niches around Sveadal and by the late afternoon a prelude began to calm the audience for the program. Meanwhile up in the Clubhouse, the Midsummer Queen, the court and musicians were all preparing themselves for the procession to be led by Parade Marshalls, Ray and Kay Lundgren, joined by their daughter Carol Anderson. By 5 p.m. the parade was under way, looping around the great lawn in front of the Clubhouse and up onto the low stage before the large audience, seated on benches or sprawling on the lawns.
Charlotte Weissenborn, was announced winner of this year’s midsummer essay titled “Midsummer Memories." Reflecting upon her memories as a little girl who grew up to reign over the festival, she noted how in her early life the League held its festival at night as a program and ball in a large hall in San Francisco. It was in 1967—when this midsummer festival changed from an indoor evening’s urban entertainment to a full day capped with dinner and dancing under the stars at Sveadal—that Queen Charlotte presided over the San Francisco Midsummer and one week later over the new Midsummer in Sveadal, the only woman to have been Queen twice in one year.


Music and the Midsummer Queen
This year’s program featured a Sveadal children’s chorus and a marvelous Swedish-American musician, Jack Pearson. As former presidents of the League, Ray Lundgren and Carol Anderson proudly crowned Tori Lundgren, their granddaughter and daughter respectively, as Midsummer Queen. Columbia (Erika Talbot) and Svea (Karin Stiles) were subsequently introduced, as were a dozen Maids of Honor, each representing one of the constituent organizations that form the League’s congress of local Swedish clubs. Consul General Barbro Osher thanked the League for carrying on this longest midsummer festival and brought greetings from Ambassador Hafström and the King.
The recession of the Queen and Court led all of the audience back to dance about the maypole, now even more delightful than under the noon sun. After this dancing everyone retired to dinner, at picnic tables or for a delicious meal at the Clubhouse. This year almost two hundred people feasted at the Clubhouse, inside or out on the newer dance floor. The line moved quickly, so all were quickly served and soon were dining, skoaling and chatting with family and friends around their table.
After dessert and coffee, everyone wandered down to the classic old dance floor nestled among tall redwoods. With plenty of libations from the adjoining bar, soon everyone was dancing, whether the beat was that of a DJ with contemporary tunes or those of the classic and beloved Swedish folk dances played by the Alpiners USA. At the stroke of midnight many climbed into cars for the drive home, or waltzed back to their campsites to reminisce under a full moon, which lit the grounds almost as bright as day. It all made one appreciate midsummer here in the U.S.—not quite Sweden’s midnight sun, but just as romantic—enough for girls to tuck seven different flowers under their pillows to insure sweet dreams.

Ted Olsson

For more info, see The Swedish American Patriotic League - Sveadal