Nordic Fest Honorees

Skäl Recipient 2021: Steve Johnson

Nordic Fest Skäl Recipient (previously flag recipient) is an individual or individuals who have demonstrated exceptional and continuing support of the Fest.

Steve Johnson’s first Nordic Fest was in 1973. He has been part of most of them since then over his decades-long career at Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School. When you work at Vesterheim, participation in Nordic Fest is a given.

As Vesterheim’s liaison to the Nordic Fest Board, Steve served starting in 2000, and was elected Board President in 2006. During this time, he worked primarily with membership, encouraging multiple reminders for the broadest possible community support of the event. Some of the regular features of Nordic Fest that everyone has come to expect, such as Heritage Demonstrators and Viking reenactors, are also the result of Steve’s tireless efforts.

His lifelong interest in historic preservation has extended into other areas of service as
well. He has long been involved with the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, The Winneshiek County Historical Society, and the Winneshiek County Historic Preservation Commission, for which he currently serves as Chair.

Steve Johnson stands as one of the many people who have helped over many decadesto sustain this great community event. His respect for historical and cultural heritage provides a fine example for everyone who will carry the Nordic Fest tradition into the future!

Grand Marshal 2021: Hometown Taxi

Nordic Fest Grand Marshal is an individual or individuals who have provided outstanding services to the Community.

Left to right: Scot Idstrom, Eric Paulson, Eric “Lincoln” Van Vliet, Daniel Rotto, Heidi Olstad, Ian Miller, Craig Witt, Ketel Paulsen

Nordic Fest chooses the Grand Marshal to recognize outstanding service to the community. Hometown Taxi was nominated for this honor by some of their many grateful customers! This unique small business provides a service that allows for a quality of life that could not be imagined in most small towns or even larger cities. For those who don’t drive for whatever reason, Hometown Taxi is there to help. Most of the clientele consists of regular passengers, and more than 60% are senior citizens.

Hometown Taxi caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal a while ago. A 1999 article noted aspects of their business model, and could not miss the significant ways that it differs from most. From the start in 1987, it has been run as a partnership of driver-owners. There are currently eight: Daniel Rotto, Scot Idstrom, Eric Paulson, Ketel Paulsen, Craig Witt, Heidi Olstad, Eric “Lincoln” VanVliet, and Ian Miller. Together, the website announces, they have “well over 100 years of taxi driving experience.” Turning a profit is secondary to providing a service to members of the community. “We love our riders,” says Daniel Rotto, who has been part of it from the start.

The Nordic Fest Board acknowledges the dedication and sacrifice of essential workers during the past year of COVID disruption, and counts Hometown Taxi among them. During the worst of it, business was down to just 5% of normal. Those were “tough times,” but they never shut down. With limited hours starting in March 2020, Hometown Taxi offered delivery service and essential medical rides. An example is driving dialysis patients three times a week for treatment. Ridership is back to about 80% of normal. The drivers are unanimous in their eagerness to get beyond COVID, but for now they are keeping plastic barriers and air handling devices installed in the taxis. They are also holding off on shared rides, a charming part of normal operations that saves time and gas, and is a key part of building community that Hometown Taxi does so well. The safety and health of the riders is most important.

Thank you Hometown Taxi for your service to the Decorah community since 1987. Your courtesy, friendliness and helpfulness are inspiring!

Past Flag Recipients

  • 1982: Pastor Paul & Lois Christenson Family
  • 1983: Phyllis Leseth
  • 1984: Bernard White, Hawkeye Stages
  • 1985: Jack & Ellie Anundsen
  • 1986: Dennis Larson *
  • 1987: Grant Woldum *
  • 1988: Betty Hacker
  • 1989: Ernest E. “Pokey Pete” Peterson
  • 1990: Maggie McConnell
  • 1991: Marion & Lila Nelson
  • 1992: Mike & Pat Dahly
  • 1993: Grace Rikansrud
  • 1994: Elliot Christen
  • 1995: Norma & Willis Wangsness
  • 1996: Gary D. Svenson
  • 1997: Jack & Marge Thompson
  • 1998: Rev. Paul Hasvold
  • 1999: Chuck Casterton
  • 2000: Clark Goltz
  • 2001: Darrell Henning
  • 2002: David & Betty Nelson
  • 2003: Barbara Hunt
  • 2004: Gordon McMasters
  • 2005: Paul & Bev Nichols
  • 2006: Karla Erdman
  • 2007: Lorraine “Sis” Saquitne
  • 2008: Janet Thompson
  • 2009: Renda Saquitne
  • 2010: Dag & Sharon Rossman
  • 2011: Helen Hendrickson
  • 2012: Tim & Mary Kay Lynch
  • 2013: Bev Christen
  • 2014: Marcia Fox
  • 2015: Foot-Notes on their 25th anniversary
  • 2016: All past and present Nordic Fest board members with special recognition to the founding memebers.
  • 2017: Sally Stromseth
  • 2018: Midge Kjome
  • 20 19 Jim & Ann Kephart
  • 2020: NO FEST
  • 2021: Steve Johnson

Past Grand Marshals

  • 1975: Governor Robert Ray
  • 1976: Hub Meeds, Minnesota Vikings mascot
  • 1977: Clair Kjome, Commodore of Minneapolis Acquatennial
  • 1978: Chr. Sommerfelt, Norwegian Ambassador to the U.S., and Counsel General Haakon H. Storlaug “led the parade”
  • 1979: Past Nordic Fest board chairpersons/presidents
  • 1980: Governor Robert & Billie Ray, as well as Mayor David T. and Betty Nelson “led the parade”
  • 1981: Dr. Elwin and Helen Farwell, Luther College President who retired in
  • 1982
  • 1982: Members of the
  • 1982 Nordic Fest board
  • 1983: David & Betty Nelson
  • 1984: Governor Terry Branstad “led the parade”
  • 1985: Laura Hoeg “Nisse lady”
  • 1986: Jan Stenerud
  • 1987: Grant Woldum
  • 1988: Pastor Paul and Lois Christensen
  • 1989: Myron Floren
  • 1990: Earnet E. “Pokey Pete” Petersen
  • 1991: Marion & Lila Nelson
  • 1992: Ole & Lena
  • 1993: Grace Rikansrud
  • 1994: Nordic Dancer directors: Darv & Betty Hacker, Jon & Mary Hart, Elea Uhl, Jeanette Pilde, Paul & Lois Chstenson
  • 1995: Trollheim Tur til Fots (Troll Walk) Guides
  • 1996: Edith Grimstad & Larry Grimstad
  • 1997: Gordon & Agnes Christianson
  • 1998: Mabel White & Jack Anundsen
  • 1999: Bob Usgaard
  • 2000: Nordic Fest board presidents
  • 2001: Lauren Singers
  • 2002: Karl & Nikoline Svendsen family descendants, 100th anniversart of their immigration
  • 2003: Jerry Rosholt
  • 2004: Esther Miller
  • 2005: Elliot & Bev Christen
  • 2006: Nordic Fest founders
  • 2007: Dave & Brenda Carlson
  • 2008: Winneshiek County Firemen’s Association
  • 2009: Mildred Jacobsen
  • 2010: Kephart Family, Kephart’s Music Center, 50th year in business
  • 2011: Elwin D. Farwell, H. George Anderson and Richard L. Torgerson, Luther Presidents on the Colege’s Sesquicentennial
  • 2012: Bob Anderson, Raptor Resource Project
  • 2013: Trails of Winneshiek & Trout Run Trail Volunteers
  • 2014: Carl Homstad
  • 2015: Elizabeth Lorentzen
  • 2016: The entire Decorah Community for their continuous contribution and support of Nordic Fest for 50 years
  • 2017: Charlie Langton
  • 2018: Julie Shockey Trytten
  • 2019: Ed and Joyce Epperly
  • 2020: NO FEST
  • 2021: Hometown Taxi