Julebyen Christmas Festival Brings Scandinavian Culture, Fun to North Shore

KNIFE RIVER, Minn. — An idea brought back to the Northland by a family from Norway started this Christmas Festival Called the Julebyen Christmas market. But not only does this fest help celebrate the holidays, but it also helps give back to the community of Knife River.

Since 2012, this has proven to be the largest fundraising event of the year for Knife River.

It brings in around 7,000 people, and raises close to $25,000, which goes towards the rec center and its facilities, as well as beach maintenance.

“There is no official city of Knife River, it’s unincorporated, so if we can’t raise taxes or do anything like that to pay for these things that a lot of other places have, this is how we do it,” Scott Shelerude, Treasurer of the Knife River Recreation Center Council, said.

Knife River was founded by a Norwegian family as a fishing village and many years later, those generations have stuck around continuing to give back to the town.

“Multiple generations are here working together and it just becomes a really big family, social, friendship kind of event,” Shelerude said.

And there’s plenty for all ages to do like games, eating, and watching the train come in on the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

“Just a wide variety, very family-oriented, and I think it’s just a wonderful experience and I think if you look at the faces of people around me, you’re going to see they’re having a good time,” Helene Hedlund, Julebyen 2021 Chair, said.

And as a volunteer-based operation, the Julebyen Fest brings all the locals together.

“My favorite part has been working with these volunteers, they are absolutely incredible, I’ve loved every minute of it. And I think that’s again you can tell that the people attending, our guests today, they’re having a terrific time, and it’s all due to the volunteers,” Hedlund said.

The pride they take in their locally crafted goods shows the talent and joy this event brings forward.

“All the crafts that are inside the building for sale that’s all made by members of the community, we don’t buy things in boxes and sell them, we make them. It’s all local vendors here, we don’t have people coming from all around the country it’s people coming from right around this town so that’s real special for all of us,” Shelerude said.

The Julebyen festivities continue tomorrow at the Knife River recreation center from 10 to 3 PM.

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