Swedish Midsommar Fest set for June 17

Celebrate the advent of summer with Midsommar Fest from 9:20 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, June 17, at Erlander Home Museum and garden, 404 S. Third St.

The day-long event will again include Swedish pancakes served by the Stockholm Inn, Swedish Bakery, Scandinavian specialty gifts and crafts for sale, children’s activities, and live music and dance in the garden.

Carl Sandburg will make a special appearance from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., enacted by Dave Oberg.

One of the highlights of the 2006 Midsommar Fest is a Swedish Marknad (market) on Grove Street. The market will feature vendors and artisans selling Swedish wares, including embroidered garments, Scandinavian “antiks” and estate collectibles, Swedish gift items, Scandinavian-style painting on wooden objects, handmade rag rugs, carved wooden figures, Swedish food and fabrics; sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats; and jewelry.

The Marknad, Mor Mor’s Attic (donated items for sale) and the Swedish Historical Society Gift Shop will all be open for business from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Special entertainment will be provided by the Nordic Folk Dancers of Chicago. The Nordics have entertained audiences of all ages and ethnic backgrounds since 1973. They have performed for the King and Queen of Sweden, for the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Soldier Field and have been featured on a WTTW documentary. Music will be provided by Ernie Sandquist, Wayne Voss, Bob Peterson and Sveas Soner.

Another special event of the Midsommar Fest is the traditional Maypole (majstang); however, this Maypole has nothing to do with May.

“Att Maja” means to decorate with green leaves and branches. The Midsommar Maypole will be beautifully decorated with hundreds of flowers and greens, augmenting the lovely Erlander Home gardens.

Once the Maypole is raised (at noon), traditional dancing by young and old alike around the Maypole will be led by Linda Westergren-Muhr and Paul Muhr. Since 1988, they have been dance instructors for the Swedish American Museum Center in Chicago, teaching Swedish social dances.

As for food, kaffe och dopp (coffee and Swedish bakery) and Swedish sandwiches will be available for sale, starting at 9:30 a.m. Strawberries and ice cream will be served from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Once again, the Stockholm Inn will prepare and serve their famous Swedish pancakes—an extra-special Midsommar treat. While there is no admission charge for Midsommar Fest, food tickets may be purchased in advance at Finials and Stockholm Inn.

Special games for children will be at 1 and 3 p.m. in a large tent across the street from the Erlander Home. Each child will receive 10 free tickets, which can be used for crafts. Projects for elementary-age children include Woodworking, Corn Husk creations and assembling Flower Wreaths. Inside the museum, local artists will be demonstrating bobbin lace making and Scandinavian folk painting. Admission charge to the museum is $5 for adults.

A raffle will be held to raise funds for the new Harold J. and Marion Carlson Cultural Center Endowment. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20, and prizes include a one-week stay at a bed-and-breakfast in Oland, a $200 gas voucher from Kelly Williamson, and a $100 gift certificate to the Stockholm Inn.

Midsommar was celebrated June 24 in honor of Johannes Diparens Dag or the day of John the Baptist. Today, Midsommar is celebrated on the closest weekend prior to the summer solstice. This is one of the most popular festivals in Sweden. It is a time for relishing the long hours of daylight. This is the season when accordion and fiddle music fills the air, a time when relatives and friends gather in the open meadow around flower-bedecked tables of food. The festival is as beautiful as it is entertaining.

During the Midsommar Festival, South Third Street in front of the Erlander Home and Grove Street (east of South Third) will be closed off to allow adequate space for all activities. The Erlander Home Museum visitors’ hours are Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m., or by appointment. Swedish Midsommar Fest is made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

From the June 14-20, 2006, issue

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