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updated: 6/16/2013 6:10 PM

Swedish Day festival provides lesson in language, culture

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  • Abra Keup adds syrup to her Swedish pancakes with lingonberries at the 103rd annual Swedish Midsommar Festival Sunday at Good Templar Park in Geneva. Abra attended with her dad for Father's Day.

       Abra Keup adds syrup to her Swedish pancakes with lingonberries at the 103rd annual Swedish Midsommar Festival Sunday at Good Templar Park in Geneva. Abra attended with her dad for Father's Day.
    Emmalee Luckas | Staff Photographer

  • Reverend Don Lindman leads a nondenominational worship service Sunday to start the 103rd annual Swedish Midsommar Festival at Good Templar Park in Geneva.

       Reverend Don Lindman leads a nondenominational worship service Sunday to start the 103rd annual Swedish Midsommar Festival at Good Templar Park in Geneva.
    Emmalee Luckas | Staff Photographer

 

The frogs in Sweden sound like the ducks of the United States, and the Swedish pigs say "nuff," not "oink."

Saying "hey" will be understood as hello, and the Swedish word "kaffe" isn't far off from English's coffee.

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Sunday's 103rd Swedish Day Midsommar Festival gave Swedes and non-Swedes alike lessons in language and culture during the daylong event at Good Templar Park in Geneva.

Inez Törnblom, of Elgin, gave a midday Swedish lesson to a crowd that included a few former students who took lessons with her at Elgin Community College. Dorothy Patzer grew up hearing Swedish from her parents, who immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. But the Batavia woman didn't start taking language classes until later in adulthood.

"I'm proud of my heritage," Patzer said. "It's so nice of Inez to take the time to teach us."

Patzer is an annual attendee of Swedish festivals across the Fox Valley and particularly likes the one in Good Templar Park because of the performances by the Swedish American Children's Choir, in which her grandchildren have participated.

Anais Peterson, 15, is not Swedish, like many of the festival attendees. She claims some Norwegian heritage, along with Japanese and Canadian. But the Batavia teen spent almost a year living in Sweden with her family and returned to join the children's choir in 2008.

Peterson served as the Midsommar Queen Sunday, a revolving honor bestowed on one child from the choir per year.

Besides main stage entertainment that included dancers as well as musicians, the festival featured children's games, craft vendors, sweet and savory food options, and a maypole raising. Guided tours throughout cottages in the park took walkers back through the Good Templar history in Geneva.

The walks will be offered again next weekend, June 22-23, during the City of Geneva's Swedish Days Festival, which starts Tuesday.

Al Kvistad has his summer cottage featured in the tour. Kvistad is Norwegian and Irish, and his wife Alice is Polish. But Kvistad said joining the community at Good Templar Park has brought them into a world of friendship and harmony.

"It's a compliment to all of us," Kvistad said. "For the beautiful blending and sharing of our traditions with one another. It's very heartwarming and it's very welcoming."

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