The 94th annual meeting of the Norwegian Slooper Society of America was held in Norway, Illinois on October 6th, 2019. 80 people were in attendance for the event.
There were of course many regulars in attendance this year, but we were very thankful for quite a few newcomers as well. Robert Fruland (descendant of Ove Rossadal) joined us from Hendersonville, NV. And Sue Taylor-Moore joined us from Bedford, VA. Sue is a, “Super Slooper” with descendants from Rossadal, Madland and Haukaas. Both Robert and Sue traveled to Norway during the past year and visited their respective family’s farms. It was so much fun to hear the stories of their visits and their passion for their heritage was contagious. There were many other new visitors this year and I apologize for not being able to list everyone… but we are so glad you joined us!
Vesterheim Gold-Medalist knife maker Perry Straw joined us again this year. Perry had a wonderful display of his beautiful creations. Perry also represented the Friends of the Viking Ship and he took great pride in explaining this historically important ship.
Vesterheim President/CEO Chris Johnson joined us from beautiful Decorah, IA. Chris presented us with an update on recent events at Vesterheim and their preparations for the 2025 celebrations. Of course we know the Sloopers are the central figures in this celebration and it was exciting to hear what is already being planned. Additionally, Vesterheim has been working with the world-famous design firm, Snøhetta to develop a long-term master plan for the museum. The first phase of this master plan will be the renovation of Vesterheim’s Outdoor Division which incorporates existing historic structures to transform the landscape into one that enhances and expands the narrative of the early settlement experience.
Our feature presentation was presented by Laurann Gilbertson. Laurann is the Chief Curator at Vesterheim and her presentation was entitled, “The Power of Silver: Traditional Norwegian Jewelry”. For centuries, Norwegians have treasured the beauty of silver. Laurann explained how silver showed the prosperity of a family, and, according to folk belief, could protect against underworld creatures and other malevolent forces. It was very interesting to learn more about the rich variety and styles of silver jewelry, and to explore the beliefs surrounding this, “powerful” metal.
I would like to especially thank Chris Johnson and Laurann Gilbertson for making the journey from Decorah to present to the Sloopers. Vesterheim is the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, with over 33,000 artifacts, 12 historic buildings, a Folk Art School, and a library and archives. This treasure showcases the most extensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. Vesterheim’s exhibitions explore the diversity of American immigration through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience and highlight the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts. Please check out Vesterheim’s website for more information and I hope you will consider a membership to this very important museum that works so hard to celebrate and preserve the memories and traditions of our Norwegian ancestors.
Speaking of great museums, I would strongly encourage you to visit our very own Norsk Museum in Norway, IL. No other museum contains so many Slooper artifacts. As Sloopers, we should all consider the Norsk museum to be, “our” museum and I encourage your support. The Norsk Museum will host a smorgasbord on Saturday, November 16th. Please check out their website for more information.