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posted: 6/21/2012 2:51 PM

Camp with the Vikings at Midsommar Celebration

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  • Participants dance around the maypole at a previous Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration at Vasa Park in South Elgin. This year, the festival marks its seventh year.

       Participants dance around the maypole at a previous Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration at Vasa Park in South Elgin. This year, the festival marks its seventh year.
    BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer, June 2009

  • Organizers of the Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration at Vasa Park in South Elgin hope to pass traditions down to younger generations.

       Organizers of the Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration at Vasa Park in South Elgin hope to pass traditions down to younger generations.
    BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer, June 2009

  • Musicians will entertain at Saturday's Midsommar festival at Vasa Park in South Elgin.

       Musicians will entertain at Saturday's Midsommar festival at Vasa Park in South Elgin.
    BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer, June 2009

 
By Hailey Czarnecki
hczarnecki@dailyherald.com

MaryJean Nystedt of Wheaton has dedicated the past 10 years of her life to midsummer celebrations at Vasa Park in South Elgin, and this year is no different.

Nystedt said her late husband was very involved with this festival. Now, she sits on the board of directors and is in charge of many items of the fest's agenda.

The seventh annual event is scheduled for 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 23.

"There have always been midsummer celebrations in Vasa Park ever since it was formed," Nystedt said. "This is the seventh annual festival under the auspices of Scandinavian Park Inc."

Every year, it attracts 200 to 250 people, she said. This year, the event lands on the exact date of the Midsommar festival celebrated in Scandinavia.

"The reason the event is held is to keep up with your Scandinavian heritage," Nystedt said.

The event features cultural activities, food and entertainment. Two new activities have Nystedt very excited.

The lawn game, Kubb, will have a different twist this year.

"We've always played Kubb, but this year we've brought in professionals for a demonstration," she said. The Kubb instruction will be from 3 to 6 p.m.

Nystedt is also in charge of the Viking campout, offered for the first time this year. Families are invited to bring their own tents and camp overnight. When the sun sets, the fun is just beginning. The Viking campout will give families the opportunity to experience bonfire lighting, a traditional toast, a torchlight procession, Scandinavian campfire songs and a movie projected on a nearby building.

But you don't have to camp out to enjoy the fun. The day will start with a traditional maypole raising at 2 p.m. followed by a children's folk costume parade and dancing around the maypole.

There will be storytelling at 5 p.m. for the children. After that will be the hunt for the prize. The hidden symbol comes from a folktale.

From 3 to 6 p.m., there will be a horse-drawn wagon ride for everyone to enjoy. Flower arrangements have been made and set around the park. A winner will be chosen at 6:30 p.m. based on votes.

Participants can get a hands-on cultural experience by creating crafts of Nordic origin. There will be paper cutting from Denmark, head wreaths from Sweden, yarn dolls from Finland, finger knitting from Iceland and painting Viking shields to represent all cultures.

Throughout the day will be musical entertainment and food on sale, starting at 4 p.m. Viljan Lodge #349 will serve a meatball platter with lingonberries, Swedish waffles with Swedish ice cream and lingonberries, sloppy joes and hot dogs.

The goal of the festival, Nystedt said, is to have fun while passing down Scandinavian traditions to the next generation.

"It's really important our children know where the heritage began," Nystedt said. "We stress family the Scandinavian way."

Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger. For details, visit vasaparkil.com.

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