During my Iowa road trip with my mom and sister, we visited Decorah. We planned on going to Decorah to visit the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, and our trip happened to coincide with Nordic Fest! It was our first time at Nordic Fest, and we had a great time. If you’re planning on attending, here are some of the fun things you can do at Nordic Fest and around Decorah!
There are lots of events during the festival, but in between them, you have time to explore the town of Decorah. It’s a really pretty town with Victorian houses and historic buildings. And it’s a pretty small town so you can easily walk around.
If you’re a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, there is a museum at one of the places she lived in Burr Oak about 20 minutes outside of Decorah, so it’s easy to spend a couple of hours there when you stay in Decorah.
Eat some Scandinavian food
There are lots of food stands set up downtown for Nordic Fest! We tried meatballs, lefse, and lingonberry ice cream (I love lingonberries so much that I’m growing my own lingonberry bushes now!), and everything was delicious. There were also some bands that played throughout the day, so you can have some entertainment while you eat.
There are also a lot of restaurants downtown if you want a sit-down meal (or eat in the air conditioning).
Watch the opening ceremonies and events
There are different events throughout Nordic Fest and throughout the town, so make sure you get a festival program to keep up with everything. The opening ceremonies kicks off Nordic Fest in front of the court house, and you can also watch the Nordic Dancers there throughout the festival. The Nordic Dancers were fun to watch, and it was especially impressive watching them dance considering how hot it was when we were there.
Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum covers the history of Norwegian immigrants to America with over 30,000 artifacts! The American Swedish Historic Museum is here in Philadelphia, and I’ve been a volunteer, grad school intern, and member there over the years so I was very interested in visiting Vesterheim to add another Scandinavian museum to my list.
There is a lot to see at Vesterheim, and there are tons of artifacts and pieces of artwork to check out. There are also some buildings outside the museum where you can see how the Norwegian immigrants lived when they first came over.
Get some souvenirs
Along with getting some Scandinavian food, grab some souvenirs while you’re at the festival! There are shops set up, and you can get the official Nordic Fest shirts. Vesterheim also has a great gift shop with everything from clothes to toys to Christmas decorations. So there’s quite a variety of souvenirs you can get!
If you get the chance to go to Nordic Fest one year, I recommend it! It was a fun festival with so many things to check out (and eat). Keep up with the festival website to get the dates of the next festivals.