Vote to decide coat of arms

Published 11:56 pm Friday, October 16, 2009

Visitors to Thorsby’s Swedish Fest on Saturday will have a rare opportunity to participate in an international endeavor — a vote to determine what could become Thorsby’s official coat of arms.

The Swedish Heraldry Association held a contest to design a coat of arms for Thorsby after an image of Mayor Dearl Hilyer’s business card found its way into a Swedish newspaper.

The business card contained an emblem of a peach with crossed American and Swedish flags, but apparently some Swedes thought Thorsby should have its own municipal coat of arms — something that fully represents a town’s heritage.

Tracia Bussey, chairman of the Swedish Fest Committee, explains:

“For our culture, we don’t understand. From a European perspective, every town or city is supposed to have its own coat of arms. It’s part of its identity.”

An official polling booth will be set up in Richard Wood Park during the Fest for visitors to choose one of four proposed designs.

All were designed by heraldists from Varmland, the home province of Torsby, the Swedish “sister” town of Thorsby, as some have called it.

The winning design will be presented to the Thorsby Town Council for approval. Bussey called it an “extension of goodwill,” especially due to the fact that a coat of arms is typically expensive.

“I think it could be a big step in the pursuit of establishing a sister city relationship with Torsby,” she said.

Attendees may vote at the booth of Per-Erik Persson, a member of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce who has made a special trip from Sweden just to be at the festival.

Bussey noted that voters do not have to be Thorsby residents to participate.

“Per-Erik says he’s never seen this happen before,” she said.

Nearly 80 vendors are scheduled to set up at the Fest. The festivities begin at 9 a.m. with the parade, followed by opening ceremonies in Richard Wood Park.