Saturday June 9, Portland, Oregon celebrated an Oregon Heritage Tradition Day - a Swedish midsummer at Oaks Amusement Park. For information on future Midsummer celebrations all over the United States, see http://ow.ly/amN330krXCX}[Midsummer in the U.S. in 2018]. For more info on the Oregon celebration, see http://www.oakspark.com and www.nordicnorthwest.org/midsummer-festival

Midsummer is one of the most important Swedish festivities, a celebration of the summer solstice. Families and friends get together to raise the Maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) and dance around it, sing, enjoy food and other treats, and celebrate summer at its height.
Midsummer celebrations in Portland, Oregon can be traced back to 1888, when the Swedish Society Linnea was established. But 90 years ago, on June 24, 1928, the most documented Midsummer celebration in Portland, Oregon was reported on, arranged for the first time by the League of Swedish Societies at Gladstone Park in the eastern section of Portland. The main planning and carrying out of the event fell on the members of the league, which was founded just seven months before in November 1927 by the Swedish Society Linnea, Nobel Lodge, Harmoni Lodge, Alberta Lodge, Skandia, Columbia Male Chorus, Swedish Business Men’s Club, Runeberg Lodge and Swedish Dance Club.

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Promoting friendship
The overall purpose of the newly formed league was to promote friendship among the various Swedish organizations in Portland, cooperate on social events that would be beyond the financial powers of the individual societies, and represent the Swedish-American population in civic affairs.
“Big Picnic Brings out 5000 Swedes” was reported by a local Portland newspaper when nine organizations of Central Council held the festival at Gladstone Park. The Midsummer Queen, Marie Olson, was coronated surrounded by her six maids and the royal court.

For 90 years, Swedes, fellow Scandinavians and their descendants in the greater Portland area have celebrated the summer solstice with a Midsummer Festival representing the cultural traditions and Swedish heritage in the “new country.” About 10 percent of the Oregon population has Swedish roots. Over the years the Swedish Midsummer Festival was held at different locations; during the last several years it has been Oaks Park in the Portland metropolitan area.

Preserving tradition
The league has been providing ethnic food at all Midsummer Festivals, and this is today still an important aspect, thanks to the commitment and support from the various Nordic organizations. Popular food like open-faced shrimp sandwiches, yellow pea soup, hot dogs, and Swedish pancakes are always served.

For many years Ross Fogelquist and many others have been actively involved in establishing several different groups representing Swedish and Scandinavian interests. Inspired to bring all the Scandinavians groups together, Scandinavian Heritage Foundation was formed. Their effort resulted in the building of Nordia House in Portland. The Nordia House and the original log cabin, Fogelbo, are the center for many different Nordic events and festivities. SHF has been renamed Nordic Northwest, and is the legal umbrella for the Midsummer Celebration in Oaks Park.
The 2018 Midsummer Festival is the first celebration to be an official Oregon Heritage Tradition, as registered with the Oregon Heritage Commission.

Leif Rosqvist