The Syttende Mai Grand Parade is a Spring Grove tradition PHOTO: CRAIG MOORHEAD/SPRING GROVE HERALD
The Syttende Mai Grand Parade is a Spring Grove tradition PHOTO: CRAIG MOORHEAD/SPRING GROVE HERALD

Some changes are coming to Spring Grove's signature event in 2014.

The Syttende Mai committee recently decided to shorten the bulk of the celebration from three days to one. Even though there will be some activities on other dates, the official slate of events will be held mostly on Saturday, May 17.

"We're short on volunteers," Corey Anderson said, "It's just getting to be too much for the people we have. We don't have enough to put on a whole weekend event and try to be everywhere at the same time. You can't do it.

Anderson serves as president of the Syttende Mai committee. Vice President Paul Folz sent similar comments to the Herald via email.

"We are saddened by the decisions, but the current seven or eight of us on the Syttende Mai committee cannot do all of the required things that need to be done," he said.

Button sales will end this year, and there will be no souvenir to mark the celebration.

"Button sales, which was our main source of income has significantly been reduced in the past couple of years because we did not have the volunteers to attend the events to sell buttons..." Folz noted. "We also eliminated the souvenir for 2014. A large number of them were not picked up or paid for this year, which was another large expense."

Anderson added that poor attendance on Friday and Saturday night dances at the Fest Building also resulted in considerable festival losses.

"It really hurt our pocketbook when we only had about seven people show up on Friday night," he said. "We spent thousands of dollars on bands, so we took a big hit on that... This year, we're just going to have a band on Saturday night, and we'll just charge at the door rather than trying to sell buttons.

"We're just going to have a one-day deal for the (Fest Building) bands this year. If it doesn't go over well, we're not going to have it any more. The money we put into the bands we can put towards rides for the kids, and other things.

"We just decided to focus on Saturday and put all of our resources into that one day."

Folz said that some events will charge at the door, and there will be some advance sales (such as wrist bands for the carnival). Other events - and there will still be many - will be free.

The Queens Banquet will also be moved to Friday, May 16, instead of being held on the weekend prior to Syttende Mai.

Anderson said that current plans call for the carnival rides to be open early (on Thursday) for two or three hours with special $1 rates for kids and adults.

"It's just to get people out there, get the word out that we've got rides," he stated. "Friday and Saturday will be the big nights. We're going to have a range of rides aimed at everyone from kids to adults this year. We're really excited about that."

Norwegian Constitution Day is officially observed on May 17 each year. In 2014, "Syttende Mai" (literally translated as May seventeenth) coincides with the Saturday celebration that takes that name in Spring Grove. The document that was signed on that date in 1814 declared Norway to be an independent nation.