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The Danebod Folk Meeting this past August was, as is normal, a multifaceted celebration. The third of the nine different speakers identified one of those facets when he began his lecture by observing, (liberally paraphrased), “I’m so glad I was present to hear this morning’s lecture on hip and knee health. You’ve invited me here today to speak about the Federal Reserve, and that, combined with the topic of this morning’s lecture, assures me that you are a group of folks who are eager to learn about a wide variety of things!” His observation could not have been more correct. Every year, Folk Meeting attendees are treated to lectures on very diverse topics and, as is typical, this year’s lecture topics were not only varied but also prompted questions and spirited discussion. There are, perhaps, few places where the celebration of life-long learning is so evident.
Two presentations deserve to be singled out because they were directly related to our heritage. One was delivered by Rasmus Thogersen, the new director of the Museum of Danish America. Many attendees had already had the opportunity to meet Rasmus, but some had not and were grateful for the opportunity to meet him and to hear his vision for the Museum. We certainly celebrated the smooth transition of leadership at the museum, but we also were pleased to have both Rasmus and his wife with us for the entire meeting. They are both charming, engaging people who were willing to participate fully, and their presence significantly lowered the average age of meeting’s participants!
The other lecture of note was delivered by Erik Hansen, son of the Danebod congregation. Erik has spent countless hours researching the history of the Danebod Folk School and especially the 1917 fire that completely destroyed the original wood building in two hours. Amazingly, funds to rebuild the building were gathered in one month’s time and the new building was quickly erected and ready to be occupied nine months to the day after the fire. The entire story is evidence of the value early immigrants from Denmark and their descendants placed on their schools. They gave of their labor and their often limited funds to ensure that Danish values were maintained in this country. Those of us who attend the Danebod Folk Meeting are indebted to the early leaders and celebrate what they created. Of course, there was a lot more to the Folk Meeting than learning interesting things. The days began with singing and with devotions. Then there was more singing. And coffee. And singing. And coffee. And folk dancing. And coffee. Interspersed were great meals and entertainment in the form of story telling and a special performance by Glenn Henriksen.
Throughout it all there were multiple opportunities to visit with long-time friends and to make new friends. In many ways, the event seemed like a family reunion that expanded easily in order to welcome new members. That may have been the very best reason for celebration of all.
Mange tak to all whose vision, dedication, and hard work have made this event possible.
(Photos by Joy Ibsen)
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