The Valdres Samband reunion began with a gathering of about one hundred people at the Quality Hotel Fagernes. A Welcome Reception was held on the patio overlooking Lake Strandefjorden.
Visitors were treated each morning to a large breakfast smorgasbord. They could then choose among bus tours, opportunities for genealogical research, or the option of exploring the area on their own. Each evening a special dinner was followed by entertainment.
Three tours, which included interesting lunch settings and lasted about six hours each, took participants to Sør Aurdal, Øystre Slidre & Etnedal, and Vestre Slidre & Vang. On each tour stops included churches and many other areas of interest - like Olavskjelda, King Olav's spring of life-enhancing water in Sør Aurdal; lunch at "Steinfjøset" (a stone barn) on the Øystre Slidre & Etnedal tour; and Einangsteinen, a runestone from 300 AD on the Vestre Slidre & Vang tour. Saturday's tour of the Bagnbergatn War Museum included a one hour hike that allowed the narrative about the 1940 battles between Germans and Norwegians to spring to life.
A team of local genealogists assisted tour members who chose to spend time using the resources available at the Valdres Folkemuseum.
Evening Dinners and Entertainment
After a Thursday evening barbecue, tour participants were able to take rides on Viking ships. Friday evening's meal was followed by interesting presentations about Valdres' history and culture. Exhibitors outside the ballroom included booths providing information, crafts, books, and samples of Valdres cuisine like rakfisk (fermented trout), pultost (soft cheese), fenalår (cured leg of mutton) and local beers. A silent auction raised $450 for the Neste Log House which will be moved to the Valdres Folkemuseum. Saturday evening a guided tour of Fagernes concluded at the Valdres Folkemuseum where a traditional meal was served in Slidrehuset. This was followed by entertainment offered by fiddlers and dancers in the amphitheater next to Strandsfjorden, and craft demonstrations in Folkemuseum buildings.
Ulnes Church was filled to capacity on Sunday morning, where two Valdres Samband members participated in the service by reading scripture. After taking family photos in the church cemetery, the Ulnes Musikklag, a marching band, led a large procession from the church across the Ulnes bridge to the Ulnes school. A wreath was laid at the war memorial stone, children provided a musical program, and lunch was served.
The farewell banquet at the Quality Hotel Fagernes was followed by a violin concert, speeches and thank-you's. A formal agreement was signed:
"We hereby announce our intention that in order to strengthen in the future the good ties that already exist between the Valdres people in Norway and the Valdres descendants in America, we will work to have a Valdres Samband charter tour and stevne in Valdres, Norway every fifth year from now."
An American flag that had flown over the Iowa State Capitol on Syttende Mai 2004 was presented for "our Norwegian friends so that they may have it and use it on occasions when they have need of" it. After singing "O Valdres and "God Bless America" the stevne formally came to a close.
Thanks to Jahn Børe Johnson, tour organizer in Valdres, and Linda Palmer, tour organizer from Borton Overseas, for making this wonderful trip possible!
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Last updated: February 24, 2018
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