Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and Nordic Fest – “50 Years Strong”


NorAm FlagsIntroduction:  In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Nordic Fest in 2016, Elizabeth Kaschins and Kathy Buzza have researched and compiled highlights about the involvement of Good Shepherd in the Fest.   They welcome additional information or corrections to this article. Some historic photos of Good Shepherd Nordic Fest activities are posted on the flickr site.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and Nordic Fest – “50 Years Strong”

Good Shepherd has been involved in Nordic Fest since it began in 1967- first with a Quilt Show and currently with its Krumkake Project. The Good Shepherd Band began performing at the Fest in the early1980s and has played at various locations every year since.

Several members of the congregation have served in Fest leadership positions: Two were among the Founders of the Fest, others have served on the Fest Board and its many committees. All will be honored as parade Grand Marshals this year.

The timeline below provides highlights of Good Shepherd’s involvement in Nordic Fest from 1967 to the present:

92 quilt

Quilt Show and Quilting Bee, Konditori, and Nordic Fest Sunday Worship

1967 – 1993*: At the Church, 701 Iowa Avenue  

Quilt Show and Bee – Over 100 quilts from the Decorah area – pieced, appliqued, cross-stitched; old and new; utilitarian and decorative; small and large – were displayed in various ways on pews and quilt frames in Good Shepherd’s original sanctuary which became the Fellowship Hall in 1988. Labels and placards provided information about the owners and stories behind the creation and design of the quilts, some dating to the late 1800s. Quilting bees, involving women of the congregation, also were part of the shows. During this period, the show and bee expanded from one afternoon to each day of the Fest and attendance reached somewhat over 1000. There was no charge for admission.

Konditori – An area of the church was transformed into a pastry shop where visitors could relax and enjoy Sweet Soup, traditional Norwegian pastries, and coffee prepared and served by congregation members. The free-will offering received matching funds from Lutheran benevolent organizations and usually netted a profit of several hundred dollars annually.

Nordic Fest Sunday Worship – With the sanctuary filled with quilts from 1967-1987, worship services were held outdoors on the east side of the church. After our late Pastor Paul Hasvold arrived in 1974, he often wore a traditional black robe and white ruff, the liturgy and some hymns were sung in Norwegian, a family immigrant trunk and Hardanger cloth served as the altar, and sermon topics focused on Norwegian immigrants and Norwegian-American history.

*In 1988, the Quilt Show and Bee could not be held due to construction in progress on the addition to the church. To remain involved in the Fest, the congregation operated a food stand featuring Norwegian pastries at a downtown location.

Star quilt

1994 – 1999:  Quilt Show Moved to the Decorah High School Practice Gym

Good Shepherd responded to the Nordic Fest Board’s request to bring the Quilt Show into the downtown area.  A Nordic Fest Button now became required for admission. Attendance and earnings gradually diminished. The congregation also had a stand providing Norwegian pastries and beverages at various downtown locations during this period.


Krumkake Project

In 2000, Good Shepherd responded to the Nordic Fest Board’s request to take over demonstrating and selling Krumkake downtown. Krumkake, or bent cake, is a thin, rolled Norwegian cookie made from a batter of flour, butter, eggs, whipping cream, sugar, and sometimes selected spices using a decorative, two-sided, iron. Each year, congregation members gather at the church for several days just before the Fest to bake, roll, and package Krumkake.

IMG_2972    IMG_2973       IMG_1279For Nordic Fest 2016 – Congregation members of all ages baked 4000 Krumkake for the church’s booth located on Water Street outside Bank of the West. This year for the first time, gluten-free Krumkake will be available. Packages of 3/$2.00 or 6/$4.00 are sold every day of the Fest. Demonstrations with samples will occur on Friday and Saturday in the lobby of Bank of the West.


Krumkake WorkersA majority of the proceeds from Good Shepherd’s Nordic Fest projects is distributed to community, national, and international non-profit organizations. A portion is devoted to identified congregation needs.

Good Shepherd Band

Under the initial leadership of Pastor Paul Hasvold, the Good Shepherd Band started performing at Nordic Fest in the early 1980s and has performed each year for the last 34 years. While the membership has changed over time, the band continues to perform a variety of crowd-pleasing old-time Scandinavian, Dixieland, and pop music, as well as old-time polkas, waltzes, and schottisches. The band has played in a variety of locations, including under canopies on Water Street and in front of the Court House, but also in the Viking Theater for a number of years.  This year the band will play on Saturday after the parade, around 12:30 pm, at the Cattlemen’s Association booth located at Jefferson and River Streets.