Swedish Fest is Saturday

Published 9:08 pm Monday, October 11, 2010

History will be made Saturday if all goes as planned during the annual Thorsby Swedish Fest.

The all-day festival will be packed with so many activities that there will be something for everyone — whether you’re a serious history buff or simply someone who likes to watch parades.

The big day will start with the Swedish Fest Parade at 9 a.m. The parade will line up in front of the old sewing factory at 8:30 and circle through town, making its way past Richard Wood Park and the downtown area.

Anyone can enter a float in the parade, as long as they arrive on time to line up. Three cash prizes of $75, $50 and $25 will be awarded for the best decorated floats.

At 10 a.m., the town will turn its attention to the Scandinavian flag court in front of the Thorsby Fire Department just off Highway 31. There, a new historical marker will be unveiled in observance of Alabama’s Year of Small Towns and Downtowns.

During the unveiling ceremony, Swedish men’s choir Vasa Drangar of Atlanta will perform.

“The marker will commemorate our founders of the town,” said Tracia Bussey, Swedish Fest Committee chairwoman.

Those who arrive at Richard Wood Park for opening ceremonies at 10:30 will have already missed a lot. But, fortunately, there will still be much to come.

During opening ceremonies, the town will welcome special guests including CEOs of several Scandinavian companies and a representative of the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C. Bussey said the representative will likely be the counselor for trade and economic affairs. Town leaders will present gifts to these and other guests scheduled to appear.

Vasa Drangar, along with several local acts, will provide entertainment at Richard Wood Park until about 2 p.m. Bussey said the choir will be wrapping up its act at about 12:30 p.m.

All morning and part of the afternoon, Richard Wood Park will be a hub of activity with more than 60 arts and crafts booths, food vendors, games and other attractions. A car show will be held in front of Thorsby School, and the museum in Helen Jenkins Chapel will be open to visitors.

But that’s not all. The inaugural Swedish Fest Dance will commence at 6 p.m. from Hunt Memorial Gym at Thorsby School. The guest band will be Cuttin’ Loose, a classic rock band from Birmingham.

Admission to the dance is $1 at the door.

“We’re getting word that a lot of Thorsby High School alumni are using that (the dance) to get together and have an informal reunion,” Bussey said.

A few valuable mementos may be purchased during the Fest, such as Swedish Fest 2010 T-shirts for $10 each and a 100-plus-page book featuring articles and historic photos from the town’s past for $10 each.

John Thorson of Colorado Springs, Colo., a grandson of Thorsby founder T.T. Thorson, provided many photos for the book, Bussey said.

On Friday night, the eve of the Swedish Fest, a reception for descendants of early town settlers will be held at Helen Jenkins Chapel at 6:30.

Bussey said descendants are coming from all over the U.S.

“The invitation is open to anyone who would like to attend if they are a descendant of early settlers of the town,” she said. “There will be light refreshments. It’s just an opportunity to meet and greet.”

Bussey said this year’s Swedish Fest will be one to remember, especially for those with deep family roots in the town.

“I feel like this particular festival is pretty monumental. These people may never be together like this ever again, so to me this makes it a very special year,” she said.