Knife River Celebrates the Holidays With Annual Julebyen

The two-day festival featured plenty of Christmas goods for sale, music, sledding, and even troll village.

KNIFE RIVER, Minn. – Around 7,500 guests visited Knife River this weekend to celebrate their annual Julebyen, Finnish for Christmas Village, in the town.

Knife River was founded by Norwegian Fishermen and they continue that tradition today.

“We’ve got a strong Norwegian heritage here which we want to retain and share with others and I think we’ve done a pretty good job based on how many people are coming to our event year after year,” said Paul Von Goertz, a volunteer at Julebyen.

It is the town’s biggest fundraiser of the year and is put on by 200 volunteers.

The two-day festival featured plenty of Christmas goods for sale, music, sledding, and even troll village.

Money raised from the event goes back to the town to help them take care of their recreation center, parks, and beach.

“It brings us together as a group it introduces you to different people and what it does to is everyone has a gift everyone. Everybody has something that they can give and this provides everybody that opportunity to give back,” said Sharon Shelerud, a volunteer at Julebyen.

The weekend also served as a debut for the Knife River Depot which after months of renovation had its first train stop at the depot this weekend since 1956.

“We began on May 13 and our goal was to have it available and usable for Julebyen which we did we put the last window in on Friday,” says Von Goertz.

The spirit of the season was all around Knife River which was evident to those who attended.

“I think the community really thrives on showcasing their talents their arts and their cuisine and it’s always a pleasure to be able to help support somebody who’s passionate about their history,” said Tina Wrucke, who is from Eagan, Minnesota.

Julebyen also serves as a way to teach children about the strong Scandinavian tradition in the area.

“It gives you identity and I think for the younger people that come here they kind of get a sense of community and a sense of who we were and where your relatives came from,” says Shelerud.

Members of Knife River even sang together their Knife River Christmas song.


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