As editor of Decorah Newspapers for the past 28 years and a veteran of over 30 Nordic Fests - during which I've consumed approximately 200 varme polse - I'd like to welcome everyone to the 47th annual celebration of this unique community's Norwegian and Scandinavian heritage.

Having grown up in a "Greek" household -- both my maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Greece -- I can't brag about being the great, great, great, great, great, etc. grandson of a sword-brandishing, plundering Viking (Can you say stereotype?), but after consuming so many of those tasty sausages wrapped in lefse over the past several decades, I'm certainly more Norwegian than your average American. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but it is what it is.

Preserving the heritage, customs and culture of your "homeland" is an interesting concept to this Greek immigrant twice removed. I do understand its importance, however. America is made up of residents from all walks of life and just about every nationality on the globe, and carrying on the traditions of their native countries helps maintain the fact this great nation is a diverse melting pot of people from everywhere. Activities like Nordic Fest serve to remind all of us of that truism.

To read the rest of Rick Fromm's award-winning column subscribe to Decorah Newspapers at 563-382-4221 for just 34 cents an issue. Or purchase one at any of the many convenient locations in Decorah and throughout Winneshiek County.