2011 Sju Lag Stevne

… was held in Fargo, North Dakota. July 14-17, 2011. The theme of the stevne was Strength in Unity.

Centennial Group Photo
Centennial Group Photo – click image for larger version

To see the names of those in the above photo CLICK HERE

Visitors from Norway at the Centennial Celebration
Visitors from Norway at the Centennial Celebration – click image for larger version

To see the names of those in the above photo CLICK HERE

See many more photos below the report. Videos are located at the bottom of this page.

7-Lag Stevne 2011 Logo

Sju Lag Stevne and Sigdalslag Centennial 2011
By Dianne Enger Snell, Historian

Strength in Unity” proved to be an apropos theme for The Sju Lag Stevne and Sigdal Centennial which played out July 14-17, 2011 at the Doublewood Inn in Fargo.  This year’s attendance was the best ever for Sigdalslag with 180 registrations, due in large part to our Centennial Celebration.  The appearance of two tour groups from Norway, numbering 137, sweetened the pot and made the events even more extra special!

The Stevne
Total registration for the seven Lags was the largest in many years.  Other than an unfortunate problem with the air-conditioning system the night of the banquet when many attendees were wearing heavy woolen bunads, the entire event was deemed a success.

Registration and activities began Thursday night with a Genealogy Open House, a First-Time Attendee class, a presentation by Dr. John Haugo entitled “Norman Borlaug, Nobel Laureate Agricultural Scientist” opening of the Hospitality Room which provided a resting place and refreshments throughout the Stevne, and the unveiling of a history/memorabilia room by Sigdalslag for displaying artifacts accumulated during its 100 years of existence.

The history room proved to be a popular “meet and greet” spot during the Stevne and many thanks are due to those who kept the room open, especially Ed and Char Espe, who spent a lot of time helping with setup and take-down  and keeping electronics running. Others who provided assistance included Don and Lynn Skadeland, Scott Brunner, Irene Navarre, Shirley Augustine, Corinne Lesteberg and Gary and Mattie Enger.  Marilyn Moen provided family history charts for the Anders B. Pedersen, our Founder, which we now have in our archives.  (Apologies to those I have omitted due to my failing memory!)

A power point presentation of notable Sigdalslag events and people ran continuously on the wide screen TV in the history room.  On display were many of the gifts and artifacts collected by Sigdalslag over the years and all of the history books and materials kept by the Historian.

The first evening of the Stevne ended with a showing of the movie “Sweet Land” from the book by Will Weaver with copies available for sale.

Friday’s offerings featured two bus tours:

  • Hjemkomst Museum, across the river in Moorhead, MN, which includes replicas of a Viking ship and of the Hopperstad Stave Church in Norway.
  • A tour of historic Fergus Falls, MN, where Sigdalslag was founded on St. Hans Day, June 1911, by Sigdal immigrant Anders B. Petersen of Rothsay, Minnesota.

Friday classes dealt with a variety of topics ranging from “Church Split in Norwegian Grove” and “Genealogy 101“,  to “Alt for Norge,” A Reality Show Experience, and a presentation by the Red River Valley Genealogical Society. In the late afternoon a movie, “Max Manus” was shown.  Children’s classes were held both Friday and Saturday including sessions on dance and drama.

The general meeting for the seven lags was at 7:30 Friday night with greetings by Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Norwegian Honorary Consul General Gary Ganderud.  Bygdelagenes Fellesraad. President Marilyn Somdahl addressed the Lags and presented a Centennial gift to Sigdalslag President Judy Sosted.  Norwegian tour leaders Birger Moen, Sigrid Kvisle and Jens Kristian Kopland were introduced and brought greetings from Sigdal, Eggedal and Krodsherad.

The seven Lag Presidents outlined Stevne activities for their respective lags – Jan Heusinkveld, Hadeland Lag; Sandra Hendrickson, Landingslaget; Chet Habberstad, Numesdalslagen; Narv Somdahl, Ringerike-Drammen Districts Lag; John Haugo, Telelaget; Helen Buche, Toten Lag and Judy Sosted, Sigdalslag.

Friday night’s program featured Dr. Steven R. Hoffbeck, Professor of History at Moorhead State University about his book “Hayloft Memories: A Chronicle of Five Farm Families” followed by a book sale and signing by the author.

Bonanzaville, a pioneer town located in West Fargo, was open for self-guided tours Friday and Saturday.  Featured there are historic homes and businesses and a church moved in from surrounding communities and restored.

Classes on Saturday included Jeff Sauve of the Norwegian American Historical Association (NAHA) on Keeping Family Histories and the NAHA archives; Sigdal members Erik Meade with knife making and Rebecca Hanna with Ale Bowl Carving; Concordia Norwegian Language Camp, and a history of bunads from Sigdal, Eggedal and Krodsherad presented by Sigrid Kvisle, director of the Sigdal-Eggedal Museum and Music Center in Prestfoss; The Kensington Runestone by Melvin Conrad, and Randi Bjorkvik Arkiv on DVD.

The Saturday banquet began with the traditional bunad parade led by champion fiddlers Andy and Dan Emert of Oregon. The parade featured an impressive array of Sigdal bunads worn by the visiting Norwegians as well as bunads from other areas.  “Three Billy Goats Gruff” a production by the children of the drama class, was well received by the audience. The children’s classes and the culminating production were under the tutelage of Children’s Activity Director Birgitta Meade and her assistants.  Banquet entertainment was provided by Dr. Art Lee, humorist and Professor Emeritus of History at Bemidji State University who regaled the audience with stories of Norwegian flavor.

The Sigdalslag Centennial:
The Stevne-at-large ended with the Saturday banquet, but that was not the end of the celebrating for Sigdalslag in 2011. We had one more day, Sunday July 17, to observe the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sigdalslag on St. Hans Day, 1911.  The Centennial celebration was also held at the Fargo Doublewood Inn.

Our Founding Father, Anders Braatelien Pedersen, an immigrant from Sigdal in 1870, made a trip back to Norway in 1895.  When he returned he found that many of the people he talked to about his trip were eager to know if he had met any of their relatives or friends while in Sigdal. Peterson realized the need for an organization to maintain the ties between the Old World and the New, and his dream became a reality with the founding of Sigdalslag in Fergus Falls, Minnesota on June 24, 1911.

During the ensuing 100 years Sigdalslag has had its ups and downs, and almost disbanded during the 1970’s for lack of attendance, but managed to stay intact due to the perseverance of its leaders and members, and today remains as strong as ever.

On the anniversary day, 199 members and guests, including our Norwegian visitors, gathered at 8:30 am for the annual business meeting.  Greetings were offered on behalf of the Norwegians by tour leaders Birger Moen of the BygdePosten newspaper in Buskerud and Sigrid Kvisle, director and curator of the Sigdal-Eggedal Museum and Music Center in Prestfoss, Sigdal.

A marble sculpture, Madonna with Child, a replica of a larger statuary located in the mountain area of Sigdal, was presented to President Judy Sosted by Sigrid Kvisle.  This statue will be passed to each President of Sigdalslag as they take office to be kept in their homes during their tenures.

Gifts of hand-painted wooden plates depicting Sigdal scenes painted by local artists were presented to each officer by Birger Moen,who also gave each officer  a DVD entitled Midt-Buskerud, and a frosted mug inscribed 2011 BygdePosten.

Member Francis Turmo gave a brief history of the Sigdalslag Banner which was presented by Sigdal and Eggedal in 1914 during a visit to Norway.  The banner was accepted at that time by Rev. Olaf Turmo who carried the treasured gift in its hand made wooden case back to America.

Rod Pletan of the Nominating Committee presented the slate of officers for the ensuing year.
President – Jean Knaak of Little Canada, MN; Vice-President – Membership, Earl Knutson, Willmar MN; Vice-President – Culture – Karen Olson Northome MN;  Vice President, Marlys Honrud Larson, Spicer MN; Secretary – Dale Buisman, North Branch MN; Treasurer – Janice L. Johnson. Bloomington MN.  No other nominations were made the slate was elected.  Outgoing officers Judy Sosted, president for four years;  and Amy Michelsen, Secretary since July of 2002;  were commended for their service to Sigdalslag and board members Scott Brunner, Saga Editor since July of 2008, and Ed Espe, Webmaster for 10 years were recognized for their years of service.

Earl and Betty Knutson called forward for recognition former past presidents Marilyn Somdahl, Corinne Lesteberg Johnson, Carol Rugland Meade and Earl Knutson; Genealogist Emeritus Lee Rokke, and current outgoing president. Judy Sosted.

Following the business meeting there was a coffee and cookie break and an opportunity for professional photos to be taken.  Birger Moen spoke to the group about happenings in present day Sigdal.  At noon a large Smorgasbord meal was served in the dining room along with birthday cake for the 100th birthday.

Afternoon festivities included a musical performance by champion fiddler brothers Dan and Andy Emert of Oregon, who entertained with a variety of folk music and offered CD’s for sale.  The Emerts are also Sigdalslag members, sons of Bev Emert and grandsons of 90-year-old Lois Skadeland of Cherokee, Iowa.

The Centennial concluded with an entertaining narrative by author Will Weaver about his Norwegian heritage, and he offered his book, Sweet Land, and DVD’s of the movie for sale.

We cannot conclude a story about the Stevne without expressing gratitude for those in charge of making it happen.  President Judy Sosted, along with vice presidents, Stevne Coordinator Donna Kulenkamp and Entertainment Coordinator Karen Olson, worked tirelessly for two years to see that all of the components came together as successfully as possible, both for the entire Stevne and for the Centennial.  Marilyn Moen was in charge of the Fergus Falls tour and church supper, and also arranged for the professional photographer for the anniversary celebration.  Sadly, Marilyn was not able to attend the Stevne due to the death of her mother on July 16.  Our sincere condolences go out to Marilyn and family.

The 2012 Stevne will be held at Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  Watch the Sigdalslag Saga and website for details!


Click on thumbnails below to view 2011 Stevne Photos

Miscellaneous video clips

Three Billy Goats Gruff – a skit performed at the banquet

Lefse Demonstration – a class at the stevne

Stevne Opening Remarks – Part 1

Stevne Opening Remarks – Part 2

Stevne Opening Remarks – Part 3

Stevne Bunad Tog Photos

Centennial Gift From Sigdal KommuneHere are a couple of Google-Translated newspaper articles about the original Sigdal Madonna statue:
Bygdeposten article – Statue Wanted
Drammen Tidende article – Statue Arrives
Drammen Tidende article – Statue in Place

More Gifts From Norway