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Swedish traditions on display during annual Swedish Day

GENEVA –  Proudly dressed in blue and gold – the colors of the Swedish flag – Richard Harris of Naperville was among those participating in traditional Maypole dancing at Sunday's 104th annual Swedish Day festival at Good Templar Park in Geneva.

"We thought it would be a fun thing to do," said Harris, who who came to the United States from Great Britain in 1997 but grew up in Denmark and is familiar with many Swedish traditions.

Sponsored by the local chapter of the International Organization of Good Templars, Swedish Day is an alcohol-free celebration of the Scandinavian tradition of Midsommar, the longest day of the year in Sweden.

Swedish Day has been held since 1925 in Good Templar Park. Dancing with Harris were his three children.

"It was good exercise, but I think it was more tiring for them than they thought it would be," he said.

Robert Holmberg, 41, of Chicago, has been attending Swedish Day festivities at Good Templar Park since he was a child. His mother, Eleonor Holmberg, was born in Sweden and is a member of the International Organization of Good Templars.

"I like seeing all of the old faces and all the old friends," he said.

Robert Holberg grew up singing many of the traditional Swedish folk songs that were sung on Sunday.

"We used to sing all those old songs," he said.

Dala horse carver Ted Bowman, of Elgin, was also on hand at Swedish Day demonstrating his craft. The Dala house is a traditional carved, painted wooden horse statuette that has its origins in the Swedish province Dalarna.

Bowman, 83, has been carving the horses for about 40 years.

"One was given to me and I couldn't resist trying to make one of my own," he said.

Sandy Braun, of Medinah, was also demonstrating the Swedish folk art form called dalamalning. She explained that dalamalning "has a biblical background. It tells a story."

And learning how to paint in that style is not difficult, Braun said.

'"It's not that extremely complicated to learn," she said. "Each artist lends their own personality to it."

Geneva will celebrate its Swedish roots during Swedish Days, which starts Tuesday. Bowman and Braun will do demonstrations during Swedish Days.

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