Knife River hosts a holiday slice of NorwayEgersund is an old, old harbor town in southern Norway with brick-lined streets, a fishing industry and a town square.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Egersund is an old, old harbor town in southern Norway with brick-lined streets, a fishing industry and a town square.
About this time every year, it becomes a Christmas village filled with lights, garland and Egersund-ians selling homemade wares. It’s where Knife River resident Anne Skadberg bought a wool-felted goat that reminds her of something from “The Sound of Music.” And it’s where she found an idea that her Knife River friends have co-opted for this holiday season.
“It was just charming,” said Skadberg, whose husband has relatives in Egersund. “It was simple; it was classy. It was just a place where people got together and you could see the pretty things that people had made.
“It gave the message of Christmas.”
Knife River is hosting its first Julebyen on Saturday and Sunday at the Recreation Center. The event features festival favorites that charmed Skadberg during her visit to Norway and more: small red huts decorated in greenery, juried Earth-friendly and locally made wares, hot chocolate and waffles, fish cakes, a sledding hill, a live nativity and storyteller Lise Lunge-Larsen’s tales of trolls.
The event is a fundraiser for the rec center and its playground.
Truthfully, Skadberg didn’t expect to see a Norwegian Christmas village crop up in her town.
She passed along the concept to Carol Ojard Carlson, who was planning on expanding the annual Festival Tour of Homes.
“I thought it was something people here should get to experience,” Skadberg said. “I sent her some pictures thinking she could glean a couple ideas and she took the whole concept and ran with it.”
The early organizational meetings began in the spring, and it was all in motion by August.
Marv Holt designed the signature huts. Scott Jasperson and a small crew assembled 10 of them in the infield of Oden Alreck Field.
“Knife River is a close community,” Jasperson said. “People came out of the woodwork to help.”
Each hut has electricity and is heated, Jasperson said. Finding the right shade of red proved tricky.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”
The Knife River Garden Club decorated the huts with garland and made centerpieces for the tables.
The sewing club created table runners, costumes and crafts that will be for sale inside the rec center.
Gail Safstrom was part of the sewing crew and stitched Norwegian ambassador costumes, elf suits and a feathery-fur coat for the resident troll.
She’s not even Norwegian.
“I’m married to a Swede,” she said. “That’s as close to Norway as I get.”
Inside the center there will be a bazaar and krumkake with cardamom.
The outdoor market will feature huts with vendors selling jewelry, beeswax products, a board game, pottery, glass, stone and wood arts and paintings.
And the festival includes a one-of-a-kind Santa photo op: Santa on a skiff with Tapper the fjord horse.
“I think it’s unique,” Carlson said of Julebyen. “I don’t think there is another Julebyen in the U.S.”
Her proof: “We have the domain julebyen.us.”
According to Egersund’s official website, the municipality is hosting its event this weekend. It will feature “84 stalls full of Christmas spirit.”
Go see it
What: Knife River Julebyen
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Knife River Recreation Center, 199 Alger Smith Road