Attendees at the 34th annual Swede Day, held at the Swede Hall in Rochester on Saturday, celebrated Nordic tradition and heritage with a parade, dance performances and — of course — meatballs.
The all-day event was sponsored by the Grand Mound Rochester Citizens’ Group, a south Thurston County nonprofit that manages Swede Hall throughout the year.
Attendance was impressive; larger than it has been in recent years, according to Pat Schoelkopf, a past president of the Citizens’ Group and an attendee on Saturday.
“I thought it was beautiful,” Schoelkopf said. “It was larger than usual and people stayed all day.”
The event got off to a quick start with 5K and mile races, which were followed by the traditional parade from U.S. Highway 12 to Paulson Street then to Albany Street and back to Swede Hall.
From 12:45 to 1:30 p.m., three pairs of dancers from the Swede Day Allman Dans dance troupe performed traditional routines, and at the end, invited the audience to join them and learn some Swedish dance steps.
All day plenty of food was available: According to Schoelkopf, 40 pounds of meatballs and 25 pounds of potato salad were sold.
“The Swedish rye bread is also always quite popular,” she said.
For many, the event held more meaning than a traditional town fair.
“It started way back when to honor the Swedish heritage,” Schoelkopf said. “I thought that this year really brought it back. It’s part of the day.”