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Stevne 2000 Celebrated in St. Cloud

By Aaron Hanson

 

The 101st anniversary stevne of the Valdres Samband took place in St. Cloud, Minn., from June 22-24, 2000. A total of 222 people registered for the event, and 186 signed the guest book. We met at the Best Western Kelly Inn, located in the central business district of St. Cloud.

The Kelly Inn is situated just west of the Mississippi River, not far from the site where a Norwegian settler named Ole Bergeson built a log cabin. Bergeson sold his land claim in 1853 to a pioneer from Maine named John Wilson, who laid out plans for a town. Wilson named the town St. Cloud after a city near Paris, France

The stevne began on Thursday morning with registration, genealogy, arts and crafts, and memorabilia.

The number of genealogy resources has grown steadily. Betty Rockswold, Samband genealogist, reported that a total of 25 boxes of research materials were carried into the genealogy room at the Kelly Inn. One recently acquired item is a binder of Valdres Samband application questionnaires, dating back to 1900.

This year, we had two copy machines (which worked very well), three microfilm readers, and one microfiche reader. Betty Rockswold noted that the demand for the microfilm readers has decreased since many of the resources have been indexed.

Arts and crafts were located in two meeting rooms and consisted of Samband book and magazine sales by Stephen Wills (merchandise chairperson), a spinning demonstration by Torleiv Kampen next to several hand-knit sweaters made by his wife, Doris (see article on page 16), and four other vendor displays.

The displays featured a variety of Scandinavian and Norwegian-American items, including rosemaling (in the Valdres style), jewelry, clothing, books, wall hangings, and trolls.

The memorabilia display at the stevne will be the last one provided by Eunice IIolz. After seven years as chairperson of the Preservation Committee, Eunice has stepped down to pursue other interests.

One item on Eunice's agenda is to research her father's family history. In July, she and her daughter, Eileen, took a trip to the St. Lawrence River area, near Cornwall, Ontario, to learn more about the Hawn family in Canada.

The Preservation Committee will be co-chaired by Paul and Jo Scheffel of the Madison, Wisc., area. Anyone who visited the memorabilia display at the stevne may well have met Paul and Jo, who were already busy at work. Their enthusiasm was contagious!

On Thursday morning and afternoon, videos were played in the ballroom. In the evening, approximately one hundred people gathered for the Get-Acquainted Social. Several dozen homemade cookies were consumed that night.

At one point, President June Adele Dolva was busy emptying Tupperware containers of cookies to satisfy all of the sweet tooths. It took about five gallons of coffee to wash down all the cookies.

Friday Seminars

The first seminar began on Friday morning at 9:00. Entitled "Telling the Story of Emigration with a Dress from Valdres," the seminar was led by textile specialists Laurann Gilbertson and Dr. Carol Huset

Colburn. The two speakers talked about a new permanent exhibit at Vesterheim that will feature a copy of a plaid dress from Etnedal, Valdres.

The next seminar, "Recollections of Experiences in Norwegian Air Force in WWII," was presented by Norman Midthun. Mr. Midthun became a pilot in the Royal Norwegian Air Force after training at "Little Norway" in Toronto. He and co-pilot Berndt Balchen later flew Crown Prince Olav on a 22-day tour of Norway to survey damages after WWII.

The last seminar of the morning was "Ideal Immigrants: Thomas, Kari and Haldor Veblen" by William C. Melton. Dr. Melton spoke about the financial accomplishments of the Veblen family. (Thomas and Kari Veblen's son Andrew was the first president of the Valdres Samband.) Haldor Veblen was a brother of Thomas.

In his talk, Dr. Melton noted that the Veblen's success closely followed a plan laid out by Johan Reinert Reiersen in his book Veiviser (a guidebook for Norwegians immigrating to the United States).

Following lunch, Carol L. Urness led the seminar "Olaus Magnus (1490-1 557) - His Book and Map of Norway." Dr. Urness, a cousin of Eunice Holz, told us about the first major book on Scandinavia, which was written by Olaus Magnus and published in 1555.

In her slide presentation, Dr. Urness pointed out many colorful features of the map, including reindeer, sea creatures, and trolls. The word "Valdres" appears on the map twice once for an inland location and once for a location a little farther north on the west coast.

 

Norway Tour Reunion

Two highlights of Friday afternoon pertained to the 1999 Centennial Stevne in Valdres.

The first was a video presentation provided by Winton Fuglie, a former economics professor and foreign service worker. Mr. Fuglie edited several hours of his videotape from Norway and created a fifty-minute video of tour highlights.

For those people who had traveled to Norway, and even for those who hadn't, the video evoked special moments from the trip to Valdres.

Following the video, the 1999 Fagernes Tour Reunion took place. Many members brought photo albums that displayed pictures from their trips, including shots of bus tours, old churches, the parade through Fagernes, entertainers at the Quality Fagernes Hotel, and pictures of individual family get-togethers. Those gathered at the reunion spoke about the tour and often mentioned wishes to return.

 

Friday Evening Meal and Program

On Friday evening, beginning at 6:00, a dinner was held in the ballroom. Although not "The Banquet," this meal provided equally delicious food: slow-roasted beef, whipped potatoes, carrot Jell-O salad ("you betcha"), green beans, and bread.

The evening program began at 7:00 with singing of the national anthems. Robert Lerohl of Sacred Heart, Minnesota, served as emcee; his daughter, Jan Lerohl (of the Moorhead area of Minnesota), served as accompanist. Following the anthems, Bob Skogman carried in the fane (banner) of the Valdres Samband.

Sonja Berg, president of the St. Cloud City Council, gave us a greeting from St. Cloud. She told about her personal experiences in Norway, including a visit to Rikshospitalet (the national hospital) in Oslo.

The first musical performers were Lisa Fuglie (daughter of Winton and Ardith Fuglie) and Mark Anderson. They sang several songs and performed on a variety of instruments, including acoustic guitar, mandolin, and bass. One song was a "springtime walking tune" from Valdres, another was "Hils fra meg der hjemme," and yet another was titled "Fuglien Polka."

The next musical performer was Mary Seim, also of Minneapolis. Ms. Seim performed on the Rynefele, a replica of a fiddle brought to America by Nils Belgum that was donated to the Valdres Folkemuseum.

The Rynefele she played at the stevne was a gift given to the Valdres Samband by the Valdres Folkemuseum. Mary played "Kari Haugen," a tune taught to her by Olav Jorgen Hegge, a master fiddler from Valdres.

Following her solo performance, Mary played dance tunes for Det Norske Folkedanslaget (The Norwegian Folk Dance Group). Made up of people from the Twin Cities area, the group performed several folk dances. They started with a rheinlander and then went on to perform a dance choreographed for Norr~nna Leikarring, a professional dance group of which Hilda Kringstad was an instructor and leader.

Perhaps the most humorous moment of the evening came when a dancer in a black-and-white cow costume (complete with udder) waltzed across the f1oor - first with a man holding a rope around the cow's neck, and later with Mary Seim.

Toward the end of the dance group's performance, their leader, Carol Sersland, performed a stev (an old form of a cappella folk singing). The sound was quite compelling and a bit somber, somewhat like kveding, which some members may have heard sung before.

The evening program closed with the audience singing "O Valdres," under the direction of Howard Lerohl and accompanied by Jan Lerohl.

 

Saturday Seminars

The first seminar on Saturday was "Story Telling - An Approach to Family History Writing" by Gordon Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson described ways to make family history writing come alive, such as talking to family members. His talk focused on the different stages of immigration: decision, leaving, crossing the ocean, finding a new home, and building/settling.

The second seminar on Saturday was called "Valdres and Other Norwegian Art" by Mary Jo Thorsheim. Positioned at the front of the room were two reproductions of the painting Hjelle in Vaidres by Johan Christian Dahl. Dr. Thorsheim illustrated her talk with slides of Norwegian paintings, and she provided an overview of the Golden Age ofNorwegian painting, which occurred in the 19th century.

The last seminar on Saturday morning was called "Ole Goes to War" by Jerry Rosholt. Mr. Rosholt, a former editor and writer for an NBC news program called "The Huntley-Brinkley Report," is gathering data on Civil War soldiers born in Norway. One the fascinating numbers provided by Mr. Rosholt was that out of 6,000 (Norwegian-born) soldiers, there were a thousand Oles.

 

Sing-Along, Business Meeting, and Memorial Service

Howard Lerohl led the sing-along, with the assistance of his niece Jan Lerohl on piano. Howard introduced many songs by providing historical background or a brief Norwegian translation.

The audience requested several favorites, including "Per Spelman," "La oss leve for hverandre," "Nidelven," "Pl p haugen," "Kjerringa med staven," " kjre vatn," and "Gud signe vrt dyre fedreland."

The business meeting began at about 2:00 and included several reports: Secretary's Report by Diane Lerohl, Treasurer's Report byAllard Stevens, and an Auditor's Report by Michael Bergan. Mr. Bergan confirmed that the reports accurately reflect the records provided.

The 2000 Nominating Committee consisted of David Kringstad, Margaret Holien, and Kristina Swanson. The slate of officers remained the same, and there was only one change in the directors. Gayle Struska was elected to a three-year term, replacing Clayton Hovda, who chose not to run again. Doris Hayes was re-elected to a three-year term.

The Reverend Conrad M. Thompson presided over the memorial service. He based the sermon on the text from John 20 ("...he [Jesus] showed them his hands and his side...").

Rev. Thompson also distributed sheets of paper that showed a sculpture of the crucifixion from the Hamre Church, which was accompanied by the text "Hvor er dine hender, Herre?" ("Where are your hands, Lord?").

Kay and Jerry Syvrud sang a duet of "Den store hvite flokk." Then Rev. Thompson read the names of members who had died during the past year, and Sandra Nelson presented carnations to friends or relatives of the deceased members. At the end of the service, Kay and Jerry sang "In Heaven Above."

 

Banquet and Evening Program

The banquet, which is called the "Festive Gjesteb~," began at 6:00 in the ballroom. The hosts and hostesses were Past president Eindride Karlsgodt and wife, Donna, and Director Robert Skogman and wife, Diane. Leland Pederson, also a past president, offered the table prayer.

Eleanor Schultz, vice president, presided over the banquet. She and President June Adele Dolva surprised Editor Ann Klee and Associate Editor Aaron Hanson with certificates of appreciation.

The food at the Festive Gjestebo included a chicken breast with ham, buttered red potatoes, tossed salad, bread, and ice cream with raspberry sauce. Coffee and water were also served.

The evening program began with the Call of the Lur by Howard Lerohl. The audience sang both national anthems, with piano accompaniment by Jan Lerohl.

Doris Hayes, dressed in a bunad, served as emcee. She introduced the first performer of the evening, Issac Thompson. Mr. Thompson, age 15, performed two piano solos: one by Edvard Grieg ("Bryllupsdag pa Trodhaugen") and one by Franz Schubert ("Impromptu in A-flat Major").

Then Mr. Thompson played two violin selections, accompanied by his teacher Mary Beth Shaffer on piano.

The first violin selection, by Ole Bull, was Saeterjentens Sondag." Before playing this, Mr. Thompson told the audience that he has an Ole Bull T-shirt that looks like a rock-and-roll concert shirt. It has the name Ole Bull on the front and concert dates on the back.

The second piece that he played was by Joseph Haydn and was from "Concerto in G Major (Allegro moderato)."

Just four days before performing at the stevne, Mr. Thompson had visited Kansas City for a master class with William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Following a standing ovation by the crowd, Mr. Thompson performed "Czrds" by V. Monti for his encore at the stevne.

Next, Doug Olunan gave a slide presentation called "Historical Gatherings." Mr. Ohman showed colorful images of churches that he has visited throughout rural Minnesota. The slides in his presentations were customized to show several churches founded by Norwegians.

Along with a variety of scenic pictures, Mr. Ohman provided humorous

and insightful stories about the churches' histories. One story, which some members may remember from the 1999 stevne at Willmar, is of a church built across a township line to appease Norwegians in both townships. Another church had two entrance doors on the front of the church, one for women and one for men.

Following Mr. Ohman's presentation, the Samband Singers entertained the audience for about twenty minutes. Directed by Howard Lerohl, the 27-person choir sang several songs that they had performed in Fagernes, Norway, at the Centennial Stevne in 1999.

The Samband Singers began with "This Land is Your Land," a folk song written by Woody Guthrie. Other songs included "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying," "Amazing Grace," and the patriotic "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Dorothy Fraser read the resolutions that she and Dianne Janu had written. The last resolution was that we meet again in Decorah, Iowa, in 2001.

The stevne came to a close as the audience sang "God Bless America."

Deceased Members Rembered at Memorial Service on June 24, 2000

John M. Christison, Chula Vista, California
Dr. EllsWorth K. Ellingboe, Hockessin, Delaware
Helen Erickson, Decorah, Iowa
Pat Flowers, Riverside, California
Dorothy M. Fry, Granite Falls, Minnesota
Knut Hauge, Lomen, Norway
Oscar Kilene, Bremerton, Washington
Marian Melby Kruger, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Arvid Lund, Coffonwood, Minnesota
Roger W. Kuehn, Sr., Stillwater, Minnesota
Kathryn Lindberg, Mesa, Arizona
Agnes Moen, Aneta, North Dakota
George Ofiedal, Ridgecrest, California
Sigurd Rudi, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jorgine Klemmetsrud Shapira, Vancouver, Washington
Harlan F. Tett, Ames, Iowa
Orville J. Thorstad, Sacred Heart, Minnesota
Eugene Wamstad, Nora Springs, Iowa

Kampens give wool spinning demonstration

By Aaron Hanson

One of the highlights of the arts and crafts display was a spinning demonstration by Torleiv Kampen. A sign in front of Torleiv's spinning wheel read, "Spinning wheel is from Valdres, Norway. Made by my dad."

Torleiv himself came from Valdres. He was born in Skrautval, grew up in Fagernes, and immigrated to the United States in 1949. He and his wife, Doris, have been members of the Valdres Sam-band for about twenty-five years.

Torleiv began his demonstration by showing how to card wool. He grasped the handles of two cards and brushed the cards against each other to prepare wool fibers for spinning.

Then he began working the fluffy wool into a single ply that he fed through the shaft and onto the bobbin of the spinning wheel. To create yarn, Torleiv would have had to combine the single ply with one or two other plies (by again feeding them through the shaft and onto a bobbin).

Standing nearby, Doris Kampen pointed out the fruits of Torleiv's labor. On the table in front of her were balls of yarn that Torleiv had spun previously. Next to the yam were sweaters that Doris had knit by hand from yarn that Torleiv had made. The sweaters on display were beautiful, V-necked vests with Norwegian patterns.

Torleiv has brought his spinning wheel to several Valdres stevnes. The last stevne that he demonstrated at was in June 1996 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Besides stevnes, Torleiv has demonstrated at Nordland Fest in Sioux Falls, S.D., at Prairie Village in Madison, S.D. (at the Steam Threshing Jamboree), at 411 fairs, and at schoolhouses.

In 1990, Torleiv was featured in the December issue of Budstikken in an article written by Amy Narvestad. That year the stevne took place in Sioux Falls, S.D., not far from the Kampen's farm in rural Canton, S.D.

[2001] [1999]


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