Monday, September 28, 2015

Varme Polse: The Only Nordic Fest Treat Available Since Year 1

Work is underway on the first Nordic Fest booths in 1967.
In the review of Nordic Fest archives to date, I noticed that only one food booth: the popular varme polse has been in operation continually since the first Nordic Fest, courtesy of the local chapters of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority. 

In a March 11, 2015 interview, Ruth T. Woldum, a sorority member who served on the committee that organized varme polse at the first Nordic Fest in 1967, shared several interesting insights:

  • The Nordic Fest committee issued a call for nonprofit food booths in planning the first event. Beta Sigma Phi chapters responded, researched recipes, focused on authentic Norwegian sausage preparation, and a hit was born.
  • Varme polses sold for 50 cents in 1967.
  • Resources in Calmar, Provitin and Dubuque have helped prepare the sausages each year especially for Nordic Fest. 
  • Proceeds from varme polse sales have been divided among participating Beta Sigma Phi chapters over the years. Each chapter votes on how to distribute all booth proceeds to community and charitable needs. Projects strengthened by Nordic Fest sales include the Decorah High School After Prom and Helping Services of Northeast Iowa, among many others.  
  • Cake and ice cream cakes have previously been offered by Beta Sigma Phi at Nordic Fest. Varme polse remains the hit with the crowds. 
  • Like many of the official nonprofit food booths at Nordic Fest, there have been years of running out and years of leftovers. Ordering supplies given uncertainties of year-to-year weather and crowds is a continual challenge.
Ruth said, "It was trying sometimes, long hours, taking roasters home at night to wash, and more. But the results were encouraging. We learned a lot in those early years. The committee has done a good job of getting it all down to a science now."

Thank you Ruth and all the members of Beta Sigma Phi over the years for both your yummy treats and for putting those proceeds to work in the community! 

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