Leif Erikson Day

Oct. 8th & 9th  >>  WESTBY, WI


Mayor Dan Helgerson welcomed Leif (Birger Eklov) to Westby on Saturday, October 10 and proclaimed the day as Leif Erikson Day in Westby.
Mayor Dan Helgerson welcomed Leif (Birger Eklov) to Westby on Saturday, October 10 and proclaimed the day as Leif Erikson Day in Westby.

     The addition of a celebration in October of Leif Erikson Day, complements the established Westby events and expands awareness and education of our Scandinavian heritage and history in America. Leif Erikson Day, Inc.’s focus is our shared heritage that began with Leif’s discovery of the Americas.

       Beginning with the inaugural celebration on October 9th and 10th of 2015, Westby’s Leif Erikson Day set upon accomplishing our mission through interactive education, entertainment, and community outreach and involvement. The weekend was kicked off with a Viking ship parade float traversing Westby’s Main Street carrying a local celebrity dressed as Leif Erikson. After the Mayor of Westby welcomed Leif, the celebration was officially underway. Some of the events of this two day celebration included: Westby’s local historical society sponsoring a tutorial on the Scandinavian lawn game Kubb, and selling lefse wrapped polse. Westby’s Bekkum Memorial Library sponsoring a movie night that included the film Vikings: Journey to the New World. Local vendors providing products such as the cards and collectables of the local Norwegian American Lutheran Church, Rømmegrøt, and Norwegian pastry baked goods from the Westby Sons of Norway Lodge. National vendors were also drawn to Westby, bringing with them historical books, jewelry, and genealogy charts. President of Sons of Norway 5th district Owen Christensen’s presentation of a program on Leif Erikson and the expedition to Vinland was the highlight of the celebration.

Leif Erikson Day founder and Eric Leum
Leif Erikson Day founder Eric Leum

Unlike Leif Erickson’s rescue of stranded sailors – earning him the moniker Leif the Lucky – the successes of Westby’s Leif Erikson Day celebration and events were not the result of happenstance. Steps were taken in the months leading up to the event that not only advertised, but educated as well. A nationally recognized graphic design firm in Milwaukee created the logo for Leif Erikson Day, Inc. to be used for t-shirts, buttons, print, and web. A banner was produced and carried in many local parades, including Decorah, Iowa’s Nordic Fest. Five educational newspaper articles were published on various subjects such as: Leif’s voyage, the game of Kubb, Runic writing, Viking ship building, and National Leif Erikson day. With the support of the Westby Chamber of Commerce, promotional brochures were produced and distributed through city utilities mailings to further broaden the awareness of the upcoming event. Only through the combined efforts of the community of Westby and its friends across the map, was Leif Erikson Day, Inc. successful. We hope you see the value in our efforts.