Get ready for homemade lefse and krumkake. Nordic Fest is noon-5 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at historic Ness Church, 24040 580th Ave., about 5 miles south of Litchfield.
The Ness Church Preservation Foundation and Ness Cemetery Association will host the fifth-annual event that celebrates Minnesota’s Nordic and Scandinavian roots, spanning the cultures of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Attendees can enjoy a taste of Nordic culture through a cultural collage of food, drinks, music, demonstrations and more.
Ness Church began the event in 2015 in collaboration with the Ness Church Board and the Sons of Norway Krakeelva Lodge of Hutchinson. Ann Lindberg, a church foundation member, said that when the lodge disbanded, the church foundation and cemetery association took over the event. One reason why the church agreed to take part in the event was to help with ongoing renovations.
“The church was established by Norwegians,” Lindberg said. “We are always working on the church. The kitchen renovation is just about done.”
Ness Church, founded in 1858, is one of the state’s oldest historical sites. The church’s congregation disbanded in 1968, but it’s still open the third Saturday of each month and hosts an annual meeting. Lindberg said the church’s graveyard also has some significant history.
“The first five casualties of the U.S.-Dakota War were buried in the cemetery,” she said.
With Ness Church’s 161-year history, hosting a history-based event made sense. The event has turned into an anticipated community gathering and will feature festival favorites such as a Nordwegian Sundae, a meatball a top a pile of mashed potatoes and gravy; potato klubb, Norwegian potato dumplings with a side of pork; egg coffee and more.
Lindberg said the festival’s popularity is growing each year.
“We saw about 250 people last year,” she said.
The event will feature food, vendors, a bake sale and silent auction that benefit the church. Kids can enjoy a bounce house and there will be a lefse and krumkake demonstration from 2:15-3:15 p.m.
This year’s event will feature two presentations. At 1:30 p.m., Adam Savage, a member of the Upper Sioux Community, will give his presentation, “The Invisible Narrative of the Minnesota River Valley,” in which he will discuss his family members’ personal experiences during the U.S.-Dakota War. Savage will also explain the history and significance of the Native American drum. During the presentation, he will play the drum while Native American presenters sing.
Beginning at 3:30 p.m., festival goers can attend Roger Hellesvig’s presentation, “An Immigrant’s Tale.” Hellesvig will speak about his great-grandfather Ole Oleson’s journey immigrating to the U.S. in the mid-1800s. He will also bring along a trunk of his grandfather’s personal items to explain the hardships Oleson endured and the choices immigrants had to make at that time.
During the presentations, other activities will be available until the festival ends.
“I think people can come out and appreciate history and have a good time,” Lindberg said.