Helen Johnson talks about Syttende Mai

Helen Johnson talks about Syttende Mai

Helen Johnson talks about Syttende Mai

Eating a pastry at the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce

Helen Johnson talks about Syttende Mai

Helen Johnson talks about Syttende Mai

Kids taking notes about Syttende Mai

Rosettes are ready to feed the kids


Rosemaling and Syttende Mai Royalty
(Helen Johnson)
Stoughton, WI

Sarah | Martin & Jenny

Introducing Helen and Chester Johnson, the 2001 king and queen of Stoughton's Syttende Mai! Syttende Mai is a Norwegian holiday celebrating the birth of Norway.

In Syttende Mai a lot of people wear bunads, a costume that people wear in Norway. The embroidered skirt Helen was wearing indicates waves.

The Syttende Mai king and queen spend a week going around to schools, nursing homes, and many other places around town. Something very important about the selection of Syttende Mai Royals is that the chosen ones are not chosen because of their beauty but because of what they have done for the town. A couple of good things they did were restoring the clock tower, donating land, working on the Stoughton depot, and starting the first skateboard ramp and youth center. Helen was also the mayor of Stoughton.

I am grateful for the beast,
Within it is the zest,
And the vitality of life,
And the source of spirit and strength.

Yes, very pretty, isn't it?

That is a verse that Chester and Helen Johnson's son rosemaled onto a plate. It was very beautiful.

Their son lives just on the outside of Stoughton, and he used to sell his art. He is now part of the Wisconsin Rosemaling Association. --Sarah

To people of Norwegian descent around the world, Syttende Mai (which translated into English means seventeenth of May), celebrates the day when Norway gained independence from Sweden.

The Syttende Mai Festival in Stoughton claims to be the biggest outside of Norway. 40,000 people come to Stoughton for Syttende Mai fest every year. Can you imagine planning that? Beth Bauer can. She puts Syttende Mai together and makes it run smoothly. They have some old games for little kids. They have a running contest, and it's two miles long. They have a juggler and a storyteller there. There is some Norwegian food and and a luncheon on Saturday. The whole town celebrates Norwegian. Some people that are not Norwegian still celebrate the Norwegian background.

Every year a new Syttende Mai king and queen are selected to ride in the horsedrawn carriage. They are informed in September and have to keep it secret until January. Then they can tell.

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This page last updated on November 6, 2002