Scandinavian Americans share their culture with Long Islanders

By Karina Gerry and Andrea Keckley

In the basement kitchen of a small, white building in St. James on Nov.10, Liv Dillahunt recreated a memory from her home country of Norway for a crowd of Long Islanders to enjoy.

The open-faced salmon and dill Norwegian sandwiches she and other volunteers carefully crafted joined the wide variety of Scandinavian dishes available for guests to try. Lines of visitors poured in from the even more crowded upper floor, where vendors were displaying clothes, kitchenware, flag decor and other types of Scandinavian items.

“It’s memories from our home country when we were small, and that’s very important,” Dillahunt, a volunteer at the Scandinavian Bazaar and member of the Sons of Norway, said.

People piled into the Sons of Norway Loyal Lodge for the opportunity to experience those cultural memories for themselves during the annual Scandinavian Bazaar on Saturday.

“I’m glad everyone’s come out and supported us,” Michael L. Pedersen, a long time member of the Sons of Norway, said

The Loyal Lodge Sons of Norway, a fraternal organization that aims to preserve Norwegian culture, has been hosting the annual bazaar for the community since 1970.

“Of course it was much smaller then,” a spokesperson for the organization said on Facebook messenger. “We will be discussing moving the bazaar to the St James Lutheran church which is down the street because we have outgrown our small hall.”

Sons of Norway began in Minnesota, which today has one of the highest rates of Norwegian and Swedish heritage in the United States. Many Scandinavians immigrated to the northernmost parts of the midwest in the early 1900s, according to the U.S. census.

New York has a considerably lower Scandinavian population with 254,474, but a present one nonetheless, the census also found.

Since its inception in 1895, Sons of Norway has grown nationally, as well as locally. With 14 Lodges in New York and three on Long Island, it’s become a place for people to learn about their history and pass it on to new generations as well.

“We have our meetings once a month here,” Pedersen said. “We have our cultural dinners and everything and they have little Vikings for the little guys to come and teach them about Scandinavian culture and traditions.”

At the event the Sons of Norway showed off their viking ship which sat on the front lawn of the lodge for guests to admire before packing into the lodge. They’ll be sailing it next year in Ronkonkoma, Pedersen said.

“We’ve been doing this for many many years now and this has been very very busy for us now,” Pedersen said. “We’ve gotten ourselves a Viking ship we’ve restored that we’re going to sail next year in Ronkonkoma.”

With close to 250 members and one of the only lodges to have its own building, the Bazaar is a way for the fraternity to raise money and engage with the community.

“It’s a good fundraiser,” Ken Blakemen, a member passing out applications at the event, said. “Because it helps pay for the building and the maintenance of the building and improvements sometimes.”

About Karina Gerry 7 Articles
I'm a 25 year old journalism major at Stony Brook University. I love dancing, golden retrievers, reading and Mac and Cheese. Working hard to be the next Oprah, or successful enough to take naps all day.