June 21, 2008
Stromsburg was first settled in the 1860s by a group of Swedish immigrants originally from Ockelbo, in Gästrikland, north of Stockholm. This group's leader was Lewis Headstrom, who was a real estate agent. The town is named after Strömsborg, a section of Ockelbo. They spent a while in Illinois before ultimately deciding to settle in Nebraska. The town is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west from Omaha. (click on map or any photograph for bigger image)
In the 1880s they had two brickyards in operation in the town. Several of the buildings around the town square feature this 'native' brick.
Every year the town has a Midsummer festival. This was my first time there. They had a smörgåsbord at the old high school gymnasium, which had more varied and unusual food items than any I've experienced before. They had activities at the library, and at the city park they had amusement park rides and game booths, and arts and crafts booths. At one of the booths was an author selling copies of his book about Nebraska history. They had Swedish folk dancing featuring different age groups, performed on a stage connected to a Swedish-style pavilion located in the middle of the park. As well, they had some Vikings come in from Omaha, to give demonstrations on methods of ancient warfare. And they had many other activities around town during the weekend festivities.
At 6:00 pm they had their big parade. They brought in participants from around the region. This year they had an African-American drill team from Salem Baptist Church in Omaha, who really impressed the crowd, and a Czech band from York performed in the parade also. And Shriners. There's always a few Shriners at most American parades.
After the parade was a talent contest in the park--a song contest, an instrumental contest, a dancing contest, and a joke-telling contest. Anybody was welcome to participate in it.
On the east side of the park they have a store with an old-fashioned soda fountain inside. I had an ice cream soda and it was delicious. Another store next door has some Swedish imports. On the south side is the old opera house, now used as a community center. On the north side is an old department store, which now is an oversized coffeehouse.
The sun sets just after 9:00 pm in Stromsburg on the longest day of the year, in case you were curious about that. The sun in Ockelbo probably sets much later on this day.