Cities, civic organizations and businesses throughout North Dakota hold many yearly “fests.” These fests bring people together to share in a variety of interests and activities. For example, Hankinson’s Polka Fest, the North Dakota Country Fest in New Salem, or the Norsk Hostfest in Minot.
Another “fest” began on this date in 1912 in Fargo. The Norwegian Singers’ Association of America chose Fargo to host it’s 11th biennial “ Sangerfest” or “song fest.” Over 1000 all-male Norwegian singers from across the United States gathered for three days to entertain and “enthrall the audiences.”
The Norwegian Singers’ Association of America was established in 1897. According to the association’s bylaws, one of its aims was to “ arrange a Sangerfest every other year where the public can get acquainted with Scandinavian music so we, through this medium, will gain respect of our fellow Americans.”
Over the years, Fargo has hosted several Sangerfests, the last one being in 2006, sponsored by the Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge in coordination with the 31st Annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival.
On this date in 1912 however, the Fargo Sangerfest was an event to behold. The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican newspaper reported that “all the hotels of the city are filled with singers and their friends, and at each public house the pianos were kept busy rehearsing for the concert this evening.”
It was estimated by some that the three-day event drew over 10,000 people. The 1912 Sangerfest kicked off at 10:00 am on Friday with welcoming speeches by Fargo Mayor William Sweet and George Perley from the Mayor’s Office in Moorhead. At 2 pm, a great parade was held that wound its way through downtown and ended at the Great Northern Depot where a dedication ceremony was held for the statue of Rollo. Later that day saw banquets and the “Grand Concert” at 8:00pm, with an estimated 4,000 people in attendance. (Move over Garth Brooks!)
The Fargo Sangerfest ended on Sunday with a picnic at 10 AM at Nokken's Grove, six miles south of Moorhead, and as one might expect when you get that many Norwegians together, “a good time was had by all!”
Dakota Datebook by Dave Seifert
"https://library.ndsu.edu/ndsuarchives/" https://library.ndsu.edu/ndsuarchives/ ND Institute for Regional Studies webpage, Fargo, ND. John Caron, “Fargo, ND, It’s History and Images,” “Special Events” Navigation Tab “Sangerfest.” Accessed on 03/08/2017
NSAA website: "http://www.nsaaonline.org" www.nsaaonline.org Accessed on 03/08/2017
Fargo Forum and Daily Republican; July 12, 1912; Pages 1, 6