Nordic Fest Honorees

Skäl Recipient 2023: Sue Sander

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

2023 NF Honoree: Sue Sander
2023 NF Honoree: Sue Sander

For 26 years, Sue Sander generously devoted her time to the Nordic Fest Board, helping continue and establish traditions for all to enjoy. As Sue recalls, her commitment to the Nordic Fest Board originally began in the middle of a haircut, with her hairdresser refusing to finish until Sue said “yes” to joining the planning efforts. Sue had just moved to the Decorah community and appreciated the early encouragement to get involved. That initial encouragement led to more than 2 decades of time, energy, and passion spent in nearly every Board position. Sue even was the Nordic Fest Board President three separate times — in 2003, 2009, and 2013. Sue shares, “I think people are afraid to get on the Nordic Fest Board. It was just as hard for me to decide when it was time to get off.”

While Sue finally did decide to step away from the Board, she has continued to be an avid supporter of Nordic Fest – volunteering wherever she can lend her time and talents to help the annual celebration continue. Sue appreciates the friendships, with area residents and repeat visitors alike, that have formed in her life as a result of her involvement.

So what is Sue’s recommendation for making the most of Nordic Fest? Sue says, “Be out on the streets. Eat your way from one end of Water Street to the other!” Sue especially recommends trying rømmegrøt, her Favorite Nordic Fest food, and spending time in the Nordic Fest Beverage Garden, a space she helped establish in 2003.

Grand Marshal 2023: David and Gail Judisch

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

2023 NF Honorees: David and Gail Judisch
2023 NF Honorees: David and Gail Judisch

Since 1974, David and Gail Judisch have devoted their time, energy, and talents to various endeavors around the Decorah community and beyond. They also, proudly, haven’t missed a Nordic Fest in 49 years!

David and Gail both grew up on farms in NE Iowa, eventually meeting in high school. The two pursued college degrees in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, married, and then found their way back to the Northeast corner of the state when David was hired by Weston Noble to fill a spot in the music department at Luther College. Soon after, Gail was hired as a nurse in Luther College’s Health Services Office. They originally stayed in Decorah for the jobs, but ended up developing roots in the community. Eventually, David and Gail both retired from Luther College (David as Professor of Music and Gail from Health Services), each offering decades of service to students, and fellow staff and faculty members. Throughout their careers, and now in retirement, David and Gail have committed hours upon hours of time to community organizations.

David has served as the Luren Singers Director for 48 years, performing with the group for the King of Norway on five separate occasions. He has been repeatedly elected as Director-in-Chief of the Norwegian Singers Association of America since 1984. Over the years, David has also participated in organizations such as New Minowa Players, Nordic Fest, Path to Citizenship, and the NEIPJC Immigration Working Group.

Gail’s nursing background led her to be involved for 19 years with the Winneshiek County American Cancer Society and as a volunteer for many years for a nurse-managed cancer detection center. In addition, she’s served as an outdoor Vesterheim Museum guide and helped run various activities and resources for Nordic Fest. Gail was also a founding member of Northern Lights Women’s Choir, which was initially started by the Luren Singers’ wives in the 1990s. She continues to be passionate about World Relief.

Together, David and Gail are members of Sons of Norway-Decorah, members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and involved with the Decorah Area Community Meal. The biggest joys in their lives, however, are their sons – Nathaniel and Aaron. David and Gail are “humbled to be Grand Marshals for the 2023 Nordic Fest and are well aware of how so many people in this community give so much of themselves, their time, their ideas, their effort, their money, and themselves to make this community a great place to live”.

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
  • 2022: Martha Griesheimer

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
  • 2022: Winneshiek County Healthcare Professionals