McCrory Gardens brings attention to culture

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“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen.”

This widely-known song lyric is from the extremely popular Disney movie Frozen, which was one of the main themes of an event held in Brookings this past weekend.

Experience Norway, an event in connection to the Brookings Frost Fest, was hosted by McCrory Gardens on Saturday, Feb 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The frosty affair included a special showing of Frozen, a children’s coloring contest and snowflake craft, map displays of Norway, krumkake and lefse demonstrations, a rosemaling display and a kick sled display.

“[The Brookings Convention and Visitor Bureau] put together a Frost Fest and so this weekend everyone in town is doing things around Frost Fest so basically it helps get people out of their homes and into the community,” Heather Costello, the operations manager of McCrory Gardens, said. “We started thinking about that and being cold and, of course, the movie Frozen came into play in my mind.” 

Costello said  Frozen was set in Norway and they wanted to bring an educational aspect to something children enjoy. 

“We are an education and visitor center so we like … to do fun things and we also want to educate when we do our fun things,” Costello said. 

The event introduced attendants to Norwegian culture through krumkake, lefse, rosemaling and kick sled displays. 

Cindy Peterson, the special events coordinator for McCrory Gardens, demonstrated how to make krumkake, a waffle cookie, and had samples of the dessert.

“I’ve learned how to make krumkake really on my own,” Peterson said. “My grandmother had made it too but I actually bought my own iron when I was in college. I had an interest in making it myself so I’ve been making it for a long time.” 

Peterson had a special iron for krumkake making that has a traditional Norwegian design that gets embossed into the cookie. Peterson went step by step showing people who were interested in making krumkake, but she thought it was important to keep in mind why the gardens was having the Norwegian themed event. 

“I just think it’s really important to keep our heritage … to understand our heritage and the customs and what makes it special and this is just a wonderful opportunity to tie in with the Frost Fest,” Peterson said.

Sandra and Bill Lind had the job of showing and giving samples of lefse, a potato pancake that can be served with a variety of toppings. 

Sandra said to make lefse they “used real mashed potatoes.”

Besides edible culture, the event showcased rosemaling, a Norwegian embroidery, and kick sleds, a specialized form of transportation.

A Brookings community member, Jeannie Wills, volunteered to show her rosemaling. She had a display of different projects she made.

“I have absolutely loved [doing rosemaling],” Wills said. “[Rosemaling is] so easy; if you’ve ever held a needle you can do it.”

Costello said they wanted to target a variety of ages for the event.

“I think it’s a fun thing to do to tie in the community and the college and the kids; all the ages,” Costello said. 

Sara Olson, a Brookings community member and event goer, read about the Experience Norway event in The Town and Country Shopper. She said her family is a big fan of Frozen.

“We have the [Frozen] DVD, CD in the car,” Olson said. “I consider us pretty faithful [to Frozen].”

Brookings community members Raymond and Sylvia Ofstedal said they heard about the event in the Brookings Register

“We were interested in the movie and the demonstrations,” Raymond said. 

Raymond said that he and Sylvia have gone to Norway three times. “It’s interesting to get back to your roots,” Raymond said. 

In addition to bringing children in, Costello wanted to bring awareness about the gardens.

“We love to bring people together and show people what’s out there, what we can offer and bring a cultural event together,” Costello said. “I hope people take away that we are supporting the community and trying to educate culture and then for the kids to take away there is a meaning and actual validity behind Frozen.”