Midsommar Festival in New Sweden welcomes new traditions

By Lisa Wilcox, Aroostook Republican & News
Posted June 27, 2013, at 11:32 a.m.

NEW SWEDEN, Maine — New Sweden was bustling with flowers, food, music and dancing as the Maine Swedish Colony held their annual Midsommar Festival last weekend.

Steeped in tradition, Midsommar combines celebration of the summer solstice with Swedish heritage. The New Sweden Historical Society sponsors the event, which features tours of the Swedish Colony’s historical sites, plenty of food, traditional Swedish costumes and flowered hair wreaths, the creation of a Majstang pole and Swedish folk dancing performances by New Sweden’s Little Folk Dancers troupe.

Despite the looming threat of rain, which held off for the most part, this year’s Midsommar was again successful, organizers said.

“I was very pleased with the way things went,” said Brenda Jepson, leader of the Little Folk Dancers. “We had good crowds.”

Jepson felt that what was most impressive about the event was the voluntary participation of New Sweden’s more youthful population.

“Our younger people are getting involved more without being asked,” Jepson commented. “They are willing to carry on the traditions and to add to them.”

An example of a new tradition this year was the 25 members of the Little Folk Dancers walking with the Majstang pole as it was carried from the Historical Society to Thomas Park for the Midsommar Fest program.

“That’s quite the hike for such little kids,” Jepson pointed out. “The dancers haven’t walked with the pole in over 10 years.”

This year’s program also included the addition of a new dance called “Fjaskern” to the Little Dancers’ repertoire.

Local musicians Luke Lagasse, Elyse Kiehn, Steve Boody and Rachel Ring performed selections with the Northern Maine Chamber Orchestra, including the “New Sweden Rhapsody,” which is a collection of excerpts from traditional Swedish folk songs that the orchestra performs especially for New Sweden’s Midsommar Festival.

New Sweden residents Almon and Marilyn McDougal were honored at the program for their years of dedicated service to the New Sweden Historical Society. The program concluded with master of ceremonies Finn Bondeson leading the crowd in the traditional “Langdans,” in which everyone who is present at the program, and able to, joins hands in a parade around the park as Swedish music is played.

The Midsommar Festival attracts visitors from all over the world. This year, as always, residents of Sweden were welcomed to town along with two sisters from Boston who were staying with the Jepson family.

Half Acadian and half Swedish, the sisters originally planned to visit to do some research on their Acadian heritage and the Acadian Congress being held next year, but Jepson encouraged them to schedule their trip to coincide with Midsommar. According to Jepson, the sisters were quite pleased with the experience of getting in touch with their Swedish heritage and will return for Midsommar again.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/27/news/aroostook/midsommar-festival-in-new-sweden-welcomes-new-traditions/ printed on December 18, 2014