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Westby held it’s first Syttende Mai celebration in 1969 and 50 years later, in 2018, the city of Westby is stilling celebrating its rich Norwegian heritage.In the mid-nineteenth century Norwegian immigrants, including first settler Even Olson Gullord, settled in the area which was once referred to as Coon Prairie. Many more followed, making Wisconsin one of the largest Norwegian settlements in the United States.

In 1879, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad established local depot stops and named its Westby station in honor of Ole T. Westby, a local Civil War hero and prominent citizen. Westby was incorporated in 1896 as a village. In 1920 it earned the title City of Westby.

Norwegian immigrants brought with them the traditions of their home country, rich in history and culture. One of the most prominent is the celebration of Syttende Mai, or Norwegian Constitution Day.

Syttende Mai (‘Seventeenth May’) is celebrated every May 17 commemorating Norwegian independence. On May 17, 1814, Norway seceded from Denmark by signing their constitution in Eidsvoll, Norway.

We hope you enjoy this 1970s Westby Syttende Mai Throwback essay of Westby Times archive photographs. How many people do you recognize...or are you one of them?

Join this year’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Westby on May 19-20, with pre-fest events on May 17-18.

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Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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