Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, celebrates the 200th anniversary of Syttende Mai, Norway’s “Constitution Day,” Saturday, May 17, with a traditional children’s parade, Nordic Dancers, a Foot-Notes street dance and other activities.
Museum admission will be free all day and the museum and store will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Syttende Mai at Vesterheim is sponsored by Jeff and Marilyn Roverud of Decorah, with additional support from Rockwell Collins.
Syttende Mai is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll and Norwegians celebrate their independence with excited crowds -- especially children -- marching through the streets waving flags, singing songs and celebrating their nation’s independence.
Vesterheim’s schedule of events for the day is as follows:
• 10 a.m. - Gallery talk for the exhibition “Flora Metamorphicae.”
• 10:30 a.m. - Tour of the buildings in the Open Air Division.
• 1 p.m. - Gallery talk with guest curator/intern Mary Claire Vuckovich for the special display “Alt for Norge: Celebrating 200 Years of the Norwegian Constitution.”
• 1:30 p.m. – Presentation by John Yilek, teacher of the popular Norwegian history course each fall at Mindekirken in Minneapolis. This engaging presentation will explore the forces that led to Norway's independence from Denmark and the signing of the constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814 and will reveal stories of the people and events of that period, including the first celebrations of Syttende Mai.
• 2 p.m. – Begin to gather at the Winneshiek County Courthouse for the Children's Parade.
• 2:30 p.m. - Children's Parade through Decorah led by Decorah's Nordic Dancers and Decorah Lions children’s train, Pokey Pete. The route starts on Main Street in Decorah at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street. Everyone is invited to march along, or cheer from the sidewalks. Norwegian flags will be provided for everyone marching.
• 2:50 p.m. - Vesterheim welcome and Decorah's Nordic Dancers perform on Mill St. at the museum. Pokey Pete will be available for rides.
• 3:30 p.m. - Tour of the buildings in the Open Air Division
• 7 - 9 p.m. - Street dance with Decorah's popular Scandinavian-American old-time dance band, Foot-Notes on Mill St. next to the museum.
In case of inclement weather, the parade and Nordic Dancers will be canceled and the Foot-Notes will perform at an alternate location to be announced. From 1:30-4 p.m., the Nordic Dancers will be holding a "Blomster Salg," flower sale, in the courtyard next to the museum.
For more information visit or call 563-382-9681.