Syttende Mai

Location: Vesterheim Museum, 502 West Water St., Decorah, IA 52101
Event Date: Wed, May 17, 2017
Contact Person: 563-382-9681

Syttende Mai

Are you ready to march in a parade and dance in the streets? Join Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, to celebrate Syttende Mai, Norway’s “Constitution Day,” on Wednesday, May 17.

            The event includes a traditional Children’s Parade, a performance by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, and other activities. Museum admission will be free all day and the museum and store will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Syttende Mai at Vesterheim is sponsored by Jeff and Marilyn Roverud of Decorah, Iowa, and Sons of Norway Valdres Lodge #503.

Syttende Mai is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll and Norwegians celebrate with excited crowds—especially children—marching through the streets, waving flags and singing songs.

Gather for the Children's Parade at 12:00 p.m. at the Winneshiek County Courthouse. The parade begins at 12:15 p.m. and everyone is invited to march along with Hardanger fiddle player Eden Ehm, Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, and the Decorah Youth Choirs. The route starts on Main Street in Decorah at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street. Norwegian flags will be provided for everyone marching.At 12:35 p.m. on Mill St. next to the museum there will be a Vesterheim welcome and a Nordic Dancers performance. Visitors will be invited to dance, too!

There will be guided tours of the historic buildings in Vesterheim’s Open Air Division at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

In case of inclement weather, the parade and Nordic Dancers will be canceled, and Eden Ehm will offer an informal performance of Hardanger fiddle music in the museum’s galleries.

A native of Decorah, Iowa, who grew up playing violin in the Nordic Dancer's Orchestra, Ehm began studying the Hardanger fiddle with renowned fiddler Andrea Een while at St. Olaf College. A member of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America (HFAA), Ehm enjoys attending workshops, camps, and learning new tunes from other fiddlers. She plays on a 1901 O.G. Haugen Hardanger fiddle made in Krøderen, Norway.

The Nordic Dancers began in Decorah in 1966 and include two groups of dancers—an older one and a younger one. The dancers begin as third graders and make a 10-year commitment to continue through high school. They perform every year at various area festivals and traveled to Norway in 2016.

Under the direction of Andrew Ellingsen and Jennaya Robison, Decorah’s Youth Choirs have been offering fun music education since 2014. The choirs include children of all age groups and the organization partners with local school districts.

Through 33,000 objects and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year.

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