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Archive for February, 2010

Decorah, IOWA— The Chicago Area Friends of Vesterheim are pleased to host a Nordic Marketplace and Luncheon to benefit Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, in Decorah, Iowa. The event will be held on Saturday, March 20, at the Park Ridge Country Club, Park Ridge, Illinois.

The marketplace opens at 9:30 a.m., and there will plenty of Norsk merchandise, including Dale sweaters, rosemaling, acanthus woodcarving, and genealogy materials. Accomplished artisans working in the Scandinavian tradition will demonstrate rosemaling and woodworking. The luncheon, which begins at 12:30 p.m., will feature a delectable menu. There will also be a silent auction and raffle drawing.

Everyone is cordially invited to meet the Honorary Consul General in Chicago Paul S. Anderson, who will give a special greeting. Vesterheim’s Executive Director Steven Johnson will also be on hand.

Tickets are $50 per person. Seating is limited. Advanced reservations are necessary and should be made by March 15. For further information, please contact Vesterheim at 563-382-9681, eMail: info@vesterheim.org, or check the museum’s website at www.vesterheim.org.

Proceeds of the event will benefit future editions of Vesterheim’s outstanding magazine “Vesterheim.” The museum uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. Vesterheim cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is one of the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city. “Vesterheim” magazine helps make the museum collections and Norwegian-American heritage accessible to larger groups of people.

From May 1 – Oct. 31, Vesterheim is open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. From Nov. 1 – April 30, Vesterheim is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays and is closed Monday. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, consult Vesterheim’s website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 523 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

Previous participants of the Luncheon.

The Illinois Rosemalers booth.

Many other craft companies including jewlery, carving, clothes and painted items as well as book sellers were in attendance.

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Are you a “Norway Enthusiast”? Do your ears perk up or your eyes shoot to articles that mention Norway? Are you rooting for Norwegian athletes in the Olympics and proud of any new accomplishments or advances that Norwegian companies or individuals make? You are not alone. I root very hard for the USA to do well in everything, but as a Norwegian-American I save some energy and pride for Norway too.

Brendan Prebo shows us the TH!NK City

I get the most enthusiastic when something real good happens in the USA that is somehow connected to Norway. So you can imagine how I felt when TH!NK EV announced that they were coming to Elkhart, Indiana to build small electric cars for the US market. TH!NK EV is a Norwegian company that is currently building electric vehicles for the European market and was once a partner of Ford Motors. I believe that the EV (Electric Vehicles) revolution is just around the corner and it is great to see that so many companies (including Ford and GM) are starting to build these vehicles here in the USA.

Inside the TH!NK City, it looks and feels just like any other car.

TH!NK EV invited me to the “South Shore Clean Cities” Annual Meeting in Merrillville, Indiana, to see and drive the TH!NK City this past week. My first impression of the car is very favorable. When many people think of small electric cars they think of the electric cart that we drive at the golf course, the TH!NK City is not an oversize golf cart. This car can handle highway speeds with a top speed of 70 mph and while it is not a race car I was able to punch the accelerator and get it going from a stop, into traffic rather quickly. I sat much higher up in the car than when I sit in my wife’s car, which gave me a good view of the road and I had plenty of leg and head room. The car is almost 8 inches narrower than my SUV, which means that my mothers husband would feel a little cramped, but my passenger and I were comfortable sitting in the front seats. And it meets all US car safety standards.

The TH!NK City has a driving range of around 100 miles, which means that it is only a commuter and short distance vehicle. When I was working in downtown Chicago I drove 7 miles each way to the train station. This car would be perfect for this type of commuting. If Chicago could build a few charging stations in parking garages in Millennium Park I could drive into the city recharge while I was at work, then drive home all on about $2 worth of electricity (based on TH!NK’s cost estimate of 2 cents per mile), my small SUV gets 18 mpg in the city and this trip would cost $14 in gas.

Brendan Prebo, marketing director for TH!NK North America indicated to me that for the first couple of years TH!NK will concentrate on selling vehicles to fleet operators in the Chicago, New York and West Coast areas. Fleet car users like government agencies (city & state) or utility, repair or other companies where cars average 30 to 80 miles per day would be great candidates for these vehicles and because the car has a large (29 cubic foot) rear storage area I could see small downtown package delivery companies enjoying this economical car. And think (no pun intended), of the reduction of pollution in our city core area, because this car has no tailpipe emissions! My mail carrier told me that she only drives 19 miles a day to make her deliveries, this would mean that our US mail systems could be called “Electric Mail”.

As a Norway enthusiast I am excited about TH!NK coming to the USA. They will be employing a number of worker in the Elkhart, Indian area and doing some good things to provide economical alternative transportation for the USA roads.

Driving the TH!NK City.

Ken Nordan – Contributing Editor

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Håkon Helgesen flies out over the knoll during a practice session on Friday.

Friday, January 29, was the day for the jumpers to test out the run before the competition. I was given permission to stand at the top of the knoll to get a better sense of what it was like to jump at Norge. From my vantage point I could look up to the top of the “Inrun” – the ramp the jumpers speed down before leaping into their flight – and look down the slope to the K-point – the red line each jumper wants to reach or jump past. I was standing only 10 feet away from the line of flight and I could easily hear the sound of the jumper passing thru the air. In a world where the sounds we hear are accompanied by the sound of mechanical pumps or motors, this was a sound that I had never heard before. It was the sound of air pushing against the jumper as they took flight, a little like a flag or kite in a breeze, but far less violent, or the fast hand movements of a martial arts fighter in some Hollywood movies.

Bob Fisk, Ken Nordan and Don Hogenson participate in the Sunday event.


I asked Håkon Helgesen, one of the jumpers from the Norwegian Team, about the sound. He told me that he does not hear anything when he jumps, not the sound of the crowd, not the sound of the air, not the thud of his skis hitting the ground after flying in the air almost 250 feet on this hill. He did know the sound I heard, a sound that only jumpers and people close to the sport heard and were able to understand.

Landing after one of the longest jump of the day at over 80 meters!


Armchair sportsmen of the 1970’s and 1980’s will never forget the melodramatic beginning to the ABC Sports show. “The Wide World of Sports”, where announcer Jim McKay spoke the catch-phrase “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”, with the dreadful 1970 fall of Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj playing out before our eyes.

The Norway Team at the Opening Ceremony: (l to r) Håkon Helgesen, Eivind Hugaas, Flag Bearer Ken Nordan, Børge G. Blikeng, Coach Roger Halvorsen

The only time I’ve jumped anything on skis was in a video game. But, I can – to some extent – understand the exhilaration these athletes feel when they fly thru the air when I think back to my days as a Boy Scout riding on the “zip-line” we constructed over a gorge at summer camp. With the image of Bogataj’s fall playing out in my mind, I looked out over the crowd and watched the jumpers speed down the ramp to send their bodies flying out over the knoll. No one fell like Bogataj, some did however make less graceful landings than others. But, regardless of how they landed or how far they flew, each jumper let out a loud scream as they slide to a stop after the jump. And, is if the jumper’s exhilaration had been transferred to the onlookers, the large crowd echoed back with an even bigger scream.

Børge was not feeling well, but gave us a great show in the Longest Standing competition.

Roger and Eivind Reviewing Notes before the Tournament. They both spent a lot of time helping me to understand the sport.

If you did not get a chance to see this tournament, Norge Ski Club has jumpers practicing on a regular basis. Visit their web site for more details. Norge is a year round facility, and the Norwegian jumpers all asked to come back in September 2010 for the fall tournament.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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