Celebrate with Vesterheim Museum at Takkefest

Celebrate with Vesterheim Museum at Takkefest

DECORAH, Iowa — Let’s loosen our bunads and kick up our heels, enjoying all we have ​here in Decorah! Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, is hosting Takkefest, a free harvest celebration and thank you to the community, on Saturday, September 23.

Join the Street Party from 3:00-8:00 p.m. on Mill Street next to the museum for live music, dancing, games for all ages, folk art, Nordic-inspired cuisine, Pulpit Rock brews, Scandinavian treats, and more! The Street Party is free with food for sale.

The museum’s Main Building will be open with regular admission from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and there will be folk art demonstrations and special tours. Admission will be free from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for the gallery opening of the exhibition “Rocks and Hard Places: Emigration through the Lens of Knud Knudsen,” and other events in conjunction with the exhibit are scheduled. The Museum Store will have extended hours until 8:00 p.m.

Live music kicks off at 3:15 p.m. with a performance by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, local children and teens who perform traditional Norwegian dances. At 3:45 p.m., the local Scandinavian dance band Foot-Notes will play. Foot-Notes plays dance tunes popular at house parties, barn dances, and “bowery” dances around the turn of the 20th century, such as schottisches, polkas, and waltzes. They represented Iowa at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1996. The live music and dancing will wrap up from 5:15-8:00 p.m. with Root River Jam, a southeastern Minnesota band that plays music in a style described as Americana or Bluegrass Fusion.

Scandinavian sweet treats, including krumkaker and Elisabeth Koren ginger cookies, will be available in the historic buildings in the Museum’s Open Air Division, where Hardanger lefse will also be made fresh in its historic setting.

Guests of all ages can compete in beanbag games and Kubb, a Scandinavian yard game described as a combination of horseshoes and bowling. Children can also participate in needle felting, a giant coloring project, and rosemaling face painting.

Living history pioneer chores and handcrafts will be demonstrated outside throughout the event.

The event coincides with the opening of the museum’s exhibit “Rocks and Hard Places: Emigration through the Lens of Knud Knudsen.” At 4:00 p.m. in the Viking Theater, there will be a showing of the film, “Album,” a beautiful introduction to Knudsen’s world of images, produced by the Norwegian Film institute. At 6:00 p.m., Zach Row-Heyveld, Vesterheim’s Exhibition Manager, will give a gallery talk in the museum’s Main Building. Considered one of Norway’s most important photographers, Knudsen (1832-1915) was born in Odda, Hardanger. Despite the idyllic landscape, Knudsen’s work vividly shows why the ever-present threat of rockslides and avalanches, lack of arable land, lack of economic opportunity, and savage beauty of life on the fjord led to some of the highest rates of emigration per capita in Norway.

Through 33,000 objects and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.