Solvang, California—The charitable Solvang Danish Days Foundation is pleased to announce that its 77th Annual Danish Days will be celebrated from Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 22, 2013. The theme this year is “Best Danish . . . Fill in the Blank!” The three-day event honors the establishment of Solvang by Danish-Americans in 1911 and helps preserve Solvang’s authentic Danish heritage. Admission is free and thousands of residents and visitors enjoy the celebration each year.
As part of the long-standing tradition, festivities will be presided over by the Danish Maid—a highly coveted honor for a local young woman who is selected by Danish Days Foundation board members after reviewing dozens of applicants. The 2013 Danish Maid is 17-year old Emma Andersen, a fifth-generation Santa Ynez Valley resident whose heritage in Solvang dates back to 1910, when her great-great-grandfather John Roth bought a ranch (now Pollyrich Farms) and relocated his family to the area. Their daughter, Anna Roth, married local builder C.V. Nielsen who opened Nielsen Building Materials in 1932 in Solvang and where today, Emma’s father Ken Andersen manages the lumber yard. Her paternal grandparents are Andrew and Thora Mae Andersen who live in Solvang and her maternal grandparents are Chuck and Shelia Bosselmann who live in Lompoc.
Emma lives in Los Olivos with her parents Ken and Allie Andersen and her three siblings, Mia, Owen and Nolan. Emma will be a senior this fall at Dunn High School in Los Olivos, where she served as 2013 Student Body President and has played on the school’s varsity volleyball, soccer and lacrosse teams. She has also been a member of Lucky Clover 4-H Club since the 7th grade and currently serves as president. In 2013, Emma was named the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation Queen and raised thousands of dollars toward the recreational facilities in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Emma revealed, “Danish Days has always been a significant part of my life. I have grown up with Danish Days. I remember as a little girl playing in the Lego tent area, then graduating to cooking aebleskiver in the mornings and dancing every Friday night at Opening Ceremonies with my Bedstefar first and then my Dad. My dancing began with my little feet on theirs as they twirled me around the dance floor; it continued with me following their lead as they taught me the traditional folk dancing steps. I remember helping cook mediste-burgers and selling the Danish Days T-shirts my dad and Ed Hanson designed. I remember every year right before Danish Days, going to my Mor Mor’s house to get fitted for my outfit. There were times I wore the same outfit for a couple of years since she would simply take down the hem to make the dress fit. Some years she had to go to her closet and find a “new” dress for me to wear. By “new” I mean that I had never worn it but that my aunt had worn before me. I love that the dresses I wear have been worn before me; I love that they each have a different story to tell. Many of my Danish Days memories include my dad’s impressive floats for the parade since we build a one-of-a-kind float, which follows the official theme–everything from a giant aebleskiver pan last year, to a giant chicken on the stage while we dance the “Chicken Dance”, to seeing my brothers’ bounce through the air on a trampoline “crushing” vineyard grapes. I absolutely love being in the parade. I love seeing the smiles our float brings to the faces in the audiences and I also love seeing their quick hands reaching for their cameras so they can capture the moment. One of my very first memories was the year my family designed a float honoring Queen Margrethe’s visit to Solvang and my role in the parade had me portraying the “Danish Queen”. I had a poster attached to my stroller with the words “Danish Maid 2013” written on it. Fourteen year ago, in that stroller pretending to be the Danish queen, I was just a little girl with a crown and never realized what any of it meant, but I really do now. I understand the significance of Danish Days. I understand the history and the importance our heritage is to our town. Honoring our Danish heritage is important. I cannot believe my dream to be Danish Maid 2013 has come true this year!”
During the Danish Days Celebration, Danish and USA flags line the streets, residents and visitors don colorful costumes, and there is food, folk dancing and entertainment throughout the weekend. Favorite activities include enjoying the authentic restaurants and bakeries featuring tasty Danish cuisine, including aebleskiver (Danish pastry balls) and medisterpølse (Danish sausage). A Danish-style Beer & Wine Garden serving Carlsberg and local brews and vintages will be on offer on Friday and Saturday. The Ravens of Odin, a professional Viking re-enactment group creates an authentic encampment in Solvang Park. There are large-scale wood-carving demonstrations, Randel McGee’s Hans Christian Andersen story-telling sessions and a Kids’ Korner featuring LEGOS in Solvang Park to delight the youngsters.