Gammel Dag Fest set for Saturday

The 39th annual Gammel Dag Festival kicks o with a 10 a.m. parade this Saturday, June 22. There is a full day of Scandinavian activites scheduled, including lefse-mak- ing demonstrations and Scandinavian artists.
Chad Smith

Peterson’s Gammel Dag Festival is one of the area’s summer highlights, and the 39th annual celebration of the event will be held on Saturday, June 22. Gammel Dag is Norwegian for “good old days” and organizers promise a family-friendly event that celebrates all things Scandinavian.

The festivities actually begin on Friday night with karaoke by DJ Tony Lee at the American Legion at 8 p.m.

Saturday’s busy schedule kicks off at 10 am. with the parade. “The day starts a little differently than in past years,” said event co-chair Gail Boyum. “We’re starting this year with the parade. It’s a traditional parade with candy for the kids, people waving from floats, and all kinds of characters in the parade so we’re very excited about it.

“You’ll see people dressed up as gnomes. Lots of people will be dressed up in traditional Norwegian costumes. You’ll see dancers up and down the street, veterans, and even our fire truck. It’s going to be a good old-fashioned parade.”

Co-chair Becky Stocker said they have activities lined up for the whole family and they’ve kept the prices for most events very economical. Stocker said many of the day’s activities will be free of charge. “One of the main highlights will be a dozen artists scheduled to come to Peterson and demonstrate Scandinavian arts and crafts. They’ll also give people a chance to try out the things they’re demonstrating, which should be a lot of fun.”

Of course it wouldn’t be a Norwegian festival without lefse. There are people coming in to not only make lefse, but they’ll give other folks a chance to try their hand at making the Norwegian delicacy. Folks making lefse and other Scandinavian foods will be in tents lined up along Peterson’s Main Street.

Music in the bandstand is another Gammel Dag tradition, and Jake Olson and Sons will be performing there all day. In fact, both Boyum and Stocker said if people who have trouble getting around simply sit at the bandstand all day, there will be no shortage of entertainment around them.

Peterson is becoming well-known for its signature gnomes, and Boyum said they’ll play a big part again this year at Gammel Dag. “We have our two giant gnomes (named Gustav and Gunnar), so we try to give folks a little education about gnomes,” Boyum said. “We’ll have a gnome boutique this year, so people can shop if they’re missing a few gnome-related items from their wardrobes.

“We’ll also have a couple of gentlemen ready to share some gnome wisdom from 2-4 p.m. in the ‘Gnome Wisdom Tent.’ They’ll be happy to share what they know as well, as answer any questions you have.”

Stocker herself is adding to the “gnome education” efforts at Gammel Dag. “I’ll be giving a short presentation on the background of gnomes, a little more of a factual presentation than at the ‘Gnome Wisdom Tent.’ For instance, did you know the first gnome ever found was on an island off Norway? The gnome was made of wood and dated back to the 1200s. I’ll be at the bandstand with more facts like that at 2 p.m.”

There are free horse-drawn wagon rides and the kids can jump onto the “kiddie train” for a ride. The kids’ schedule also includes little league baseball games. There’s even a vintage base ball game scheduled for 2 p.m.

“It wouldn’t be Gammel Dag without wonderful food,” Boyum said. “Stumpy’s Food Truck will be there, as will The Pony Espresso Food Truck. Burdey’s Café will be selling hot dogs and brats outside on Saturday. You can also stop into Geneva’s Ice Cream Parlor for a treat.”

Other activities include candy bar bingo, youth t-shirt painting, garage sales, as well as Scandinavian treats at Grace Lutheran Church. The event wraps up with a street dance on Saturday night, with a performance by the Spare Parts Project. For a complete rundown of the activities, go to