Stoughton revs up Norwegian spirit before Syttende Mai Festival returns

The Norwegian heritage festival is set to return May 14-16.
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 9:29 PM CDT
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STOUGHTON, Wis. (WMTV) - Stoughton’s 67th festival to celebrate the city’s Norwegian heritage is set to return in May, after COVID-19 canceled the party last summer.

The Syttende Mai Festival is planned for May 14 to 16 in Downtown Stoughton. Callie LaPoint, a manager with the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce, said attendees can expect heightened safety precautions, which are reasons why events like the Sunday parade have been modified to be drive-thru. Other events, like the arts and crafts station, have been removed entirely.

The full list of events can be found here.

“Syttende Mai,” which translates to “17th of May” marks Norway’s Constitution Day. For Stoughton, the holiday has given residents a reason to eat, drink and dance for nearly seven decades.

Last year, when coronavirus canceled the event entirely, LaPoint said many restaurants and retailers felt the impact. The festival, she said, typically brings 20,000 people to the city.

“It’s very important to us,” Patrice Roe, the owner of the Nordic Nook, said. “It’s [also] important to the entire downtown community because you get all this wonderful foot traffic. Even if somebody doesn’t buy something on that weekend, they’ll think, ‘Oh gosh. That’s Stoughton. That’s a fun place. I’d like to come back.’”

Roe said the pandemic left the community feeling “uff da.” She described the word to mean “‘Ugh, I can’t believe it,’ or ‘I’m upset.’”

But with a celebration a few weeks out, Roe said the word to describe the spirit now is “skol,” or “cheers.”

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