Norwegian heritage of many of Stoughton's citizens is celebrated each year as our entire town and thousands of guests observe Syttende Mai. The words "Syttende Mai" are Norwegian for "seventeen May", and we hold the event on the weekend closest to May 17.
On that day in 1814, the Norwegian Constitution was signed, giving Norway independence from its 500 year union with Denmark. Stoughton's Syttende Mai celebration dates back as far as 1868, when Norwegian immigration to this part of Wisconsin was reaching its peak.
Syttende Mai is a very colorful, gala, family-oriented affair with many people wearing authentic Norse costumes. There are folk dancing performances by the world famous Stoughton Norwegian Dancers, exhibits of Norwegian rosemaling (painting) and hardanger (needlework),woodcarving, Norse costume style show, Norwegian church services, smorgasbord of Norwegian foods, a variety of musical performances, and an Ugliest Troll Drawing contest.
2013 Syttende Mai King & Queen
The Syttende Mai Executive Committtee have selected John and Darlene Arneson as this year's Syttende Mai King and Queen.
Stoughton native John Arneson and Verona transplant Darlene Arneson serve as the 2013 Syttende King and Queen. With a strong commitment to Norwegian heritage, agriculture, and community involvement, John and Darlene represent a wide variety of organizations as they serve as this year's royalty. Both growing up on farms, majoring in Agricultural Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaching high school agriculture education, and operating in a dairy partnership, John and Darlene currently work in agricultural related jobs. John is a process operator for DuPont and Darlene serves as Ag in the Classroom Coordinator and Foundation Director for Wisconsin Farm Bureau.
Highly involved in a variety of community activities, John and Darlene are no strangers to many in Stoughton. Active on all levels of Sons of Norway, both serve as respective Presidents of Sons of Norway Mandt Lodge and the Mandt Lodge Building Corporation. Darlene has worked with the Stoughton Norwegian Summit Group and Destination Stoughton Weekends. John and Darlene met in the FFA and have been active in the Stoughton FFA and FFA Alumni. Both have served in state officer positions for the Wisconsin FFA and FFA Alumni. Darlene is the scheduler of the Stoughton FFA Alumni food stand and John chairs the Agricultural Advisory Committee. While farming, they hosted countless school tours and media interviews on agricultural issues. They are also active members of First Lutheran Church, Bryant Foundation Norwegian Heritage Center Committee, Relay for Life, Kegonsa Hustlers 4-H Club, and Farm Bureau. John served on the Martin Luther Christian School Board and Darlene served as Dairy Superintendent at the Stoughton Junior Fair and on the Thrivent Board. Both were SHS Norwegian Dancer parents, chaired the 4-H Adopt a Highway, and have been honored by a variety of organizations for their service on local, state and national levels including Darlene being named Stoughton Citizen of the Year.
With an intense interest in their Norwegian heritage and wanting to share their passion with their children Lars, Jens and Sigrid, their involvement in Sons of Norway and numerous trips to Norway have secured a passion for all of their family members. While most of their time is spent volunteering, John and Darlene love to old-time dance and John is doing genealogy research on his Norwegian roots.
2013 Syttende Mai Prince & Princess
Prince Drew Toso and Princess Annalisa Mahieu
Celebrate Syttende Mai with us in Stoughton
on the weekend when everyone claims to be Norwegian!