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Westby to celebrate Syttende Mai May 14-15

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Westby will celebrate its Norwegian heritage with a two-day Syttende Mai event, Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15.

Michelle Holen, president of the Westby Syttende Mai board of directors, said it feels good to have a two-day celebration after it was one day in 2021 and was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are out of practice, though,” she said with a laugh. “There are those nuances… Did we do that? Did we do this? Who did that (last time)?”

Holen said there is always a need for volunteers and there are still volunteer opportunities for people to help with this year’s celebration. She said event organizers could use some volunteers on Sunday morning to help with the Big Parade’s lineup and traffic direction.

“We could also use volunteers to keep an eye on the kids’ inflatables by the ballfield,” Holen said.

She added the board is still looking for a flatbed trailer to use as a judges’ stand for Sunday’s Big Parade.

Anyone interested in volunteering may leave a message on the Syttende Mai Facebook page, or call or text Holen at 606-606-1708.

“There’s so much going on,” Holen said. “I think we have a pretty good list of events – there’s something there for almost everyone. We’re excited to get more back to normal.”

New events

Along with the traditional events, this year’s celebration includes a few new ones or ones that are being held on different days.

Holen said the kickoff breakfast is taking place on a different day of the week. Instead of it taking place Friday morning, it will be served Saturday morning. This year’s breakfast will be held at Beanie’s Diner, 203 W. Old Town Rd., Westby, from 6:30 to 10 a.m.

She added if people are looking for an authentic Norwegian breakfast, they may want to attend the frokost being served by the Westby Sons of Norway at the Westby United Methodist Church, 202 E. State St., from 7 to 10 a.m. The menu includes an egg dish, waffles, herring, breads, vegetables, fruits, Norwegian cheeses, juice and coffee.

Holen said the Westby Area Historical Society will hold an open house at the Thoreson House Museum Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Randy Lunde, who was inducted into the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame in 2017, will be the special guest sharing his stories about being a ski jumping judge.

Another new feature is Norwegian kids’ crafts provided by Steve and Deborah Michaels and family in the parking lot behind Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Children will have an opportunity to make Viking masks, Norwegian ships and a rosemaled ornament.

History Alive Project, Inc., will host special speakers on Saturday in the basement of the New Directions Real Estate building, 110 N. Main St.

From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Dana Kelly and Gary Swain will discuss naming patterns that changed as Norwegian immigrants came to the United States. In addition, Karen Rebholz, an accomplished and skilled designer, collector, builder and player of the Hardanger fiddle, will present two sessions – one from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and another from 2 to 3 p.m. During the first session, Rebholz will talk about the history and construction of the fiddle and play a few tunes. During the second session, Rebholz will discuss her 2018 trip to Voss, Norway, where she spent a month learning how to improve her skills; select tunes will also be played.

Vernon County Sheriff’s K-9 Officer Dax and his handler Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Bellacero will give a demonstration at Veterans Memorial Athletic Field, 204 Market St., Saturday, at 1 p.m.

There will be a Drikk (Beverage) Garden at Fellesskap (Community) Square at the corner of Main and East State streets Saturday during the musical entertainment.

Holen said there will be about 10 food vendors on hand for the celebration. “That’s more than average. Some are new and some are favorites.”

Traditional events

Many traditional events are making a return.

The Westby Syttende Mai annual pancake supper will be a drive-through meal served behind the Westby VFW, 205 N. Main St., Thursday, May 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. Customers will drive through on North Bekkedal Avenue. The meal, which costs $6, includes pancakes, sausages and more. The Westby Syttende Mai and Westby Snowflake royalty courts are hosting the supper. All proceeds will go toward the courts and assist with their event costs throughout the year.

Friday night, May 13, features the Westby Elementary School IMPACT drive-thru chicken-que beginning at 4 p.m. until all of the food has been served. The school is located at 122 Nelson St. In addition, the Westby High School choral concert will be presented in the Westby Area Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. The 2022 Master Button and Doll Auction will be held during intermission.

The Westby Area Historical Society will hold its Grandmother of the Year award presentation at Fellesskap Square Saturday at 9 a.m. Dominic Tucker and his aunt, Holly Phillips, will be introduced at the winners of the 2022 award.

Fellesskap Square will also be the site for music and other entertainment on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The evening headliner is Ontourage from 5 to 9 p.m. The rain location for Ontourage’s performance is the Westby Rod & Gun Club on Main Street.

Free locomotive rides will be offered again on Saturday from the parking lot of New Directions Realty, 110 N. Main St., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other kid-related activities include the Elaine Lund Memorial Kiddie Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday (judging begins at 9 a.m. in the Bland Clinic parking lot), kids inflatables by the athletic field off West State Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, and the Syttende Mai Kid’s Bike Races will be held Sunday at the corner of Washington Street and Sunset Boulevard. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by the races at 10 a.m. The event is for children up to age 12. Routes will vary depending on age brackets; however, all routes are within the Washington and Ulland Avenue block.

The two-day arts and crafts fair returns, Saturday and Sunday. The vendors will be set up along Market Street behind Subway from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The car show will be set up on Veterans Memorial Field Saturday with registration taking place from 9 a.m. to noon, and an award presentation at 3 p.m. There’s a $5 entry fee per vehicle entered.

On Saturday, the Coulee Region Rosemalers Show and Sale will be held in the Westby Community Center (lower level of Bekkum Memorial Library) Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Coulee Region Rosemalers Heritage Center will be set up in the Westby VFW Post, 205 N. Main St., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Big Parade steps off at 1:30 p.m. sharp Sunday. The 2022 parade marshals are Jay Vosseteig and Dan Iverson.

The annual Syttende Mai button raffle, which has cash and gas prizes, is underway. Only 500 buttons/tickets have been printed, and the drawing will be Sunday at 4 p.m.

In addition, there is a scholarship fundraising raffle. The winners will be drawn at 4 p.m. in front of Connelly Law Office on Main Street. Raffle proceeds benefit the Syttende Mai Royalty Scholarship Fund.

Medallion hunt

Seventeen wooden medallions will be hidden within the city limits sometime this week. Medallions will be accessible 24/7, will not be hidden on anyone’s personal property and will be safely accessible.

Some of the medallions are worth a cash prize and the finder can keep the medallion. A person can find more than one medallion and then register it at the Syttende Mai information booth on Main Street in front of the Connelly Law Office, no later than Sunday by 5 p.m. to find out if that particular medallion is worth a cash prize. Found medallions need to be shown and registered at the information booth during its open hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

No medallion reward money will be issued after 5 p.m. Sunday.

Troll hunt

People of all ages are invited to find Syttende Mai’s three mischievous trolls—Tann, Huldrah and Runa.

Clues for each troll will be posted at the following times: Noon Friday; 4 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. Saturday. Clues will be posted on the front door of Connelly Law Office on Main Street, at the information booth and on the Syttende Mai Facebook page. Trolls must be turned in at the information booth no later than 5 p.m. Sunday to receive a cash prize.

More information and details about Westby’s celebration of its Norwegian heritage can be found at www.westbysyttendemai.com and on the Syttende Mai Facebook page.

Angela Cina can be reached at angie.cina@lee.net.

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Vernon County Times editor

Angie Cina is editor of the Vernon County Times. Contact her at 608-637-5616.

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