A summer solstice rich in Swedish tradition

Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 11:00 a.m. CDT

BISHOP HILL – Bishop Hill’s Midsommar Music Festival will celebrate the summer solstice in true Swedish fashion on Saturday, June 22. A traditional maypole decoration and procession, live music and a festive barn dance are highlights of the all-day event.

The celebration begins at 11 a.m. with the Black Hawk Pipes and Drums kicking off a full lineup of musical acts on the festival’s main stage. The park gazebo in the center the village square will host these performances.

The music will continue with Jansson 5 at noon, Lewis Knudsen and the Bandits at 1 p.m. and The Hollands at 2 p.m. The Bob Burns Duo will conclude the main stage lineup with a performance at 3 p.m.

Activities centered on the maypole, a tradition rooted in Swedish history, will carry the festival into the evening. The decoration and dressing of the maypole begin at 4 p.m. in the park before accordionist Ernie Sandquist leads a public procession to the Colony School. Dancing and refreshments will accompany the arrival of the maypole.

The festivities don’t end there. The Rusty Pickup String Band will provide entertainment for the old-fashioned barn dance at the Colony School following the maypole event. Veteran caller Gail Hintze will teach and call all dances throughout the night. Admission to the barn dance is $5, and no experience is necessary.

Bishop Hill was settled by Swedish immigrants in 1846. The colony was founded as a Utopian community after founders left their native country for religious freedom. The Colony Hotel, Old Colony Church and Bishop Hill Museum, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (www.IllinoisHistory.gov), are a few of the original colony buildings that still remain today.

The festival is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Arts Council and co-sponsored by the Bishop Hill Heritages Association, Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill Old Settlers Association, Bishop Hill Vasa Lodge No. 683 and various local businesses. To learn more, visit www.bishophill.org or call 309-927-3311.

A grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency committed to developing opportunities for engagement in the arts, also sponsors the event.

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