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updated: 6/15/2014 7:56 PM

Fun with a Swedish flair in Geneva

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  • Louisa Olsen, 11, left, of Aurora and Lucy Smith, 14, of Geneva, walk in the procession Sunday before the Maypole dancing at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva.

       Louisa Olsen, 11, left, of Aurora and Lucy Smith, 14, of Geneva, walk in the procession Sunday before the Maypole dancing at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva.
    Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer

  • Alex Lewis, 13, of Naperville, participates in the Maypole dances Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva. The Maypole dances are one of the highlights of the annual Swedish festival, and some participants wear authentic traditional Swedish clothing.

       Alex Lewis, 13, of Naperville, participates in the Maypole dances Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva. The Maypole dances are one of the highlights of the annual Swedish festival, and some participants wear authentic traditional Swedish clothing.
    Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer

  • Kyley Cahill, 7, of Sycamore adjusts her flower crown after greeting her friend Sydney Poss, 11, of North Aurora Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva. Cahill and Poss are members of the Swedish American Children's Choir, the largest Swedish children's choir in the Midwest, with 32 members ages 4-16.

       Kyley Cahill, 7, of Sycamore adjusts her flower crown after greeting her friend Sydney Poss, 11, of North Aurora Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva. Cahill and Poss are members of the Swedish American Children's Choir, the largest Swedish children's choir in the Midwest, with 32 members ages 4-16.
    Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer

  • Sydney Poss, 11, of North Aurora, dances around a tree Sunday with other members of the Swedish American Children's Choir during the Maypole dancing at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva.

       Sydney Poss, 11, of North Aurora, dances around a tree Sunday with other members of the Swedish American Children's Choir during the Maypole dancing at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva.
    Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer

  • Marguerite Karl of St. Charles, left, prepares the Swedish American Children's Choir before they perform Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva.

       Marguerite Karl of St. Charles, left, prepares the Swedish American Children's Choir before they perform Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva.
    Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer

  • Linda Westergren-Muhr of Chicago leads the Maypole dances Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva. Westergren-Muhr has done Maypole dancing for more than 15 years and loves that it "brings everyone out; they're all smiling and the endorphins kick in. It's the highlight of the summer for many people," she says.

       Linda Westergren-Muhr of Chicago leads the Maypole dances Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day Midsommar Festival in Geneva. Westergren-Muhr has done Maypole dancing for more than 15 years and loves that it "brings everyone out; they're all smiling and the endorphins kick in. It's the highlight of the summer for many people," she says.
    Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Swedish Day Midsommar Festival

 
 

What's not to love about a combo plate of Swedish meatballs and crispy fried herring, with sides of grilled onions, cold pickled beets, new potatoes and limpa bread? Pass the sour cream and butter, please.

Swedish food -- including pancakes with lingonberry sauce, and almond tarts called "maraziner" -- was one of the major attractions Sunday at the 104th annual Swedish Day festival at Good Templar Park in Geneva.

People enjoyed traditional dishes while watching others dance around the Maypole or listening to the Swedish American Children's Choir or an ABBA tribute band.

Of course, one did not have to be Swedish, or even Scandinavian, to enjoy the event at the private park. The Midsommar Festival is one of several public events the International Order of Good Templars, who own the park, put on.

"I'm joined by my daughter Grace Burns, who, while Irish, looks like a Swede. So that's how we got in," joked Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns about his blond-haired daughter, while welcoming the crowd.

About 150 people got an aerobic workout after the Maypole was raised at noon, as they danced in rings around it and then snaked through the bystanders. They laughed as they were urged to make the sound a Swedish pig does -- "nÖff nÖff," not "oink oink" -- while dancing to one of the folk songs traditionally sung at Midsommar, "Sma Grodorna."

Later, the Swedish American Children's Choir, clad in traditional folk dress, danced and sang about enjoying Midsommar.

Re-enactors from the Micel Folcland group showed what life was like for Anglo-Scandinavians who lived in the British Isles 1,000 years ago. And tours were given of the Raven, a replica of a Viking ship housed at the park.

The event has been held in Geneva since 1925, when the temperance organization bought the land.

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