2009 Sju Lag Stevne

… was held in River Falls, Wisconsin

by Dianne Snell

2009 Sju Lag Stevne - Bridging the Generations

About 360 people congregated in River Falls June 25-28 for the 2009 Seven Lag Stevne hosted by Telelaget at the University of Wisconsin. Telelaget president Dr. John Haugo of Hudson, Wisconsin, served as coordinator of this year’s event, which also included Sigdalslag, Numedalslagen, Ringerike-Drammen Districts Lag, Landingslaget, Hadeland Lag and Toten Lag.

The chosen theme “Bridging the Generations,” was reflected in the Thursday to Sunday schedule designed to encourage younger members and working people to attend. Entertainment headliners were two “younger generation” performers from Telemark, Norway – vocalist and folk singer Tone Jorunn Tveito and Hardanger fiddler Torgeir Straand. The duo shared their talents during several Stevne events including the opening session, the Saturday banquet, and at Mindekirke and Old Muskego Church on the Sunday tour..

All of the campus events were held in the new University Center at the college, a beautiful facility, but with its four-level design and only one elevator, logistically challenging for attendees with mobility issues and for vendors and genealogists who needed to transport their materials to and from the third level.

Many of the participants stayed at the South Fork Suites, a dormitory building with pods of four individual bedrooms, a small living area, kitchenette and one bathroom – at a modest cost of just $15 per night per person.

The first combined event was a Thursday bus tour to the Heritage Center in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The site was once a classic farm of the New Richmond area, and now occupies 11 acres containing the original farmstead and other historic buildings which have been moved to the site. These include a general store, Norwegian cabin, church, school, barn and machine shed and the “Northside House” from the Scandinavian part of town.

Also on Thursday’s agenda, an Open House in the genealogy room, and an evening movie, “Heroes of Telemark” starring Kirk Douglas, dealing with the Norwegian underground mission to destroy the secret ‘heavy water” facility during World War II. Earl and Betty Knutson were kept busy at the registration table, and the report is that 50 Sigdôlers signed in.

Sigdalslag’s Genealogist Emeritus Lee Rokke, computer guru Rod Pletan and able assistants presided over the Sigdal library and genealogy materials and assisted researchers in the quests for their roots. The genealogy room was open Thursday and Friday and also Saturday morning until it all had to be dismantled to make way for the Saturday night banquet in the same space.

The opening session on Friday morning began with the “Call of the Lur” by Tone Jorunn Tveito, and greetings from River Falls Mayor Don Richards; Gregg Heinselman, Vice Chancellor for University Student Affairs; Marilyn Somdahl, President of Bygdelagenes Fellesraad, and each of the seven Lag Presidents. Musical entertainment was provided by Tveito and Straand.

A wide variety of classes were offered Friday and Saturday and included lefse making, folk dancing, internet genealogy, writing family history and the “World Heritage of Seeds.” Vendors plied their wares such as wood carvings, books, photography, dolls and jewelry and several authors were on hand for book-signings.

The seven Lags conducted their business meetings Friday morning. At the Sigdalslag meeting Jan Johnson was elected Treasurer to replace Dean Skadeland; and Karen Olson and Donna Kulenkamp to replace retiring vice presidents Ruth Manning and Rod Pletan. The outgoing officers were recognized for their service to the Lag during their tenures. The 2011 Sigdalslag centennial celebration was a hot topic on the agenda, with break-out sessions to discuss various aspects of planning. A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of a life membership to “92-years-young” Irene Navarre of Albuquerque, NM in recognition for her many years of support and dedication to the Lag.

The keynote speaker for the General Session on Friday evening was Roger Magneson of the LDS church who outlined the “Norway Project” which has enlisted volunteers from Norway and the United States to translate the Norwegian Church records to English and to make them available on the FamilySearch website.

Leroy Larson and the Minnesota Scandinavian Ensemble Show Band entertained for the general session with hokey humor and lively music, prompting some couples to get up and dance in the aisles!

The Saturday Banquet, held in the Riverview Ballroom, was a sumptuous buffet which included cod with white wine dill sauce, and roast duck with lingonberry and brandy sauce, not to mention cloudberry pie and rømmegrot. A bunad parade, musical entertainment and reunions with relatives and friends rounded out the evening.

The final event of the 2009 Stevne was a bus tour to the Norwegian-Lutheran Mindekirke in Minneapolis for a bilingual service. The church holds a Norwegian and an English service each Sunday and is served by Norwegian pastors who stay three years. The tour continued on to Luther Seminary which now houses the oldest Norwegian church in the United States, moved to its present site log by log from Muskego, Wisconsin where it was originally constructed in 1844.

With the 2009 Stevne now behind us, we can look forward to the 2010 event in Winona, Minnesota, and we are one step closer to the Sigdalslag 100th anniversary Centennial Celebration in 2011 in Fargo. It will also be Sigdalslag’s turn to plan and oversee the entire Seven Lag Stevne that year, so a lot of help will be needed. “Stay tuned” to the Saga and on the website for information, updates and volunteer opportunities, and most of all, we will need your attendance. Hope to see you there!

Click thumbnail images below to view photos.