A Midsommar makeover

Organizers hope to infuse novelty into popular Swedish festival

     A festival as perennial as lupines can present challenges to the organizers. Tradition is important, but so is novelty when trying to attract visitors back to an event they have attended many times.

     This was the dilemma facing the New Sweden Historical Society when planning this year’s Midsommar Festival — slated for Friday through Sunday, June 17-19 in Aroostook County’s Swedish Colony.

     But with a bit of imagination and a lot of help from the local community, many new and exciting events have been dotted in and around annual festival favorites.

     “We had several objectives we hoped to achieve, “ said Brenda Jepson, who co-chaired this year’s festival with Kathy Hede Robinson.

     “Getting performers from Sweden was one of them, as well as bringing back folk dancing for adults. We also wanted to offer some exciting historic exhibitions never seen before and I am glad to say we have attracted some.”

     Birgitta Anderson Whited, a Swedish nightingale who performs many traditional songs will be singing a few of them on Saturday evening at the New Sweden School during an event called “Folk Dancing For Fun.”

     A collection of films, shot by New Sweden resident Walter Anderson in the 1920s-‘40s will premiere at the New Sweden Baptist Church on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.

     “Walter captured amazing footage,” said Jepson. He was always seen running around with a camera filming all kinds of events — from a cattle drive through New Sweden to rolling the snow before plows. These will be shown for the first time.”

     At the Covenant Church on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. there will be a smorgasbord of new events — from a quilt exhibition to Swedish ethnic foods and from a vintage sewing machine demonstration to a display of Maine Swedish Colony photos from the 1920s — on loan from the Nylander Museum.

     “All these new events will be added into our usual popular activities such as raising the Midsommar Pole and watching the children dance around it while singing in Swedish,” said Jepson.

     But the Midsommar Committee’s challenges are not entirely over. “A TV company in Sweden would like us to connect with them over the weekend via skype so folks back in the old country can see how we celebrate Midsommar in New Sweden, “ said Jepson. “Now we will have to see if we can organize the technology!”

     A complete program of events is on the New Sweden Historical Society Facebook page as well as in leaflets available in local outlets.