So much of the Kansas story is about pioneers and the Wild West that a day spent in the middle of Vikings, Nordic traditions and Spanish explorers may come as a surprise, but that’s what you get in Lindsborg.
The history of this town south of Salina IS one of pioneers, farmers and the wheat they brought with them, but it is also about a unique cultural tradition found no where else in the state.
Lindsborg is known as “Little Sweden” – it was founded by a group of immigrants from the Varmland province of Sweden who dreamed of a community rich in culture and tradition. Now, nearly 150 years later, they have succeeded in becoming a unique destination that draws visitors from around the world for their blend of good food, shopping and the arts.
Our family’s quiet sunny afternoon in Lindsborg included a stop at the Red Barn Studio. Here our boys enjoyed looking at the unique creations of artist Lester Raymer who used a variety of mediums – including using many recycled items, which was a real thrill for my oldest son who likes to make “creations” out of things Mom would usually call “trash.”
The studio is Raymer’s former home, and includes an artist in residence program. We met artist Shin Hee Chin, a native of South Korea and a Professor of Fine Arts at Tabor College, who was working in textiles on a variety of works that will soon be on display at the Eisenhower Center. What a treat for the boys to get an up close look at her work. They even got a “Yes, please touch” invitation. It was a cool experience and is a powerful set of works.
We also visited the Old Mill Museum, which gave us a history of the area and the opportunity to tour a mill from the late 1800s. They also have the Swedish Pavilion from 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. It was moved to Lindsborg after the fair and is still the centerpiece for some of their Swedish traditions. Lindsborg also featured several other unique shops and restaurants as well as a treasure hunt of sorts set up in connection to the “Wild” Dala horse sculptures around town that made this a fun family day trip.
If you are looking for a good excuse to visit Lindsborg, try the town’s Midsummer’s Festival. It is always held the third Saturday of June. This year on June 16th, your family can enjoy a day of food, music, dancing, arts and, if you like, the opportunity to participate in a thousand year old Viking game called “Kubb.” If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, they will teach you. The highlight of the festival comes at 6:30 when they raise a Midsummer Maypole with Swedish Dancing and Dancing Games on the lawn in front of that World’s Fair building.
There is one more spot I’d recommend if you visit Lindsborg. Make sure to take the time to visit Coronado Heights. This spot just north of town is purported to be where Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his men viewed the prairie on their search for gold. Of course, they did not find it back then, but if you visit at the right time of year, the fields of wheat will give you the golden view they failed to find. Take a picnic. It’s a great spot.
Karen Ridder is a freelance writer living in Topeka. A former News Producer for KSNW-TV in Wichita, her work can also been seen in print publications including: Topeka Magazine, TK Magazine and the Topeka Capital-Journal. She has written for several national blogs and was recently recognized as one of the 2011 winners in the Annual Kansas Factual Story Contest. Karen has lived in Kansas for 15 years and married a native Wichitan. Together they are raising three little sunflower boys and a dog named George.