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Juy/August 2017 Issue


Little Sweden USA

Immerse yourself in Swedish
culture in quaint Lindsborg, Kan.

Bright sun illuminates the pristine downtown in Lindsborg, Kan., on a quiet afternoon. Inside the 40-year-old Öl Stuga restaurant, dark wood complements a well-worn oak floor. Taking its name from Öl (ale) and Stuga (house), the beloved bar is known for its hefty sandwiches served with dill pickle spears and chips. A favorite, the Brent Nelson sandwich, combines a massive split sausage and barbecue sauce with onions, smoky sharp and hot pepper cheeses.

Life-sized Dala horses, a brilliant-hued phone booth, and flower-filled pots decorate the neighborhood, where Swedish folk music plays from unobtrusive outdoor speakers.

Welcome to Little Sweden USA, an appropriate nickname given to Lindsborg, where visitors will find abundant Swedish culture.


The McPherson County Old Mill Museum, Roller Mills & Heritage Square interprets local history with a focus on 1870–1910. The restored mill dates to 1898, including antique steamer trunks from immigrants’ ocean passages, the beautifully maintained, mostly wood mill, and room vignettes depicting late 1800s life. This historical site also includes a general store and a one-room schoolhouse. The Swedish Pavilion, transplanted here from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, anchors the site.

Hemslöjd (pronounced hem-slyad) is Swedish for handicraft, and Hemslöjd Swedish Gifts stocks dozens of Dalas, etched glassware, and gorgeous Scandinavian fabrics. At the bright and cheerful Trollslända Toy Store, you’ll find squeezable cloth dolls and all-wood train sets. There are even child-sized Viking helmets at Trollslända, which is the Swedish word for dragonfly.

Bethany College, founded in 1881, is a liberal arts school that’s affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The on-campus Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery displays paintings by the college’s longtime, beloved professor. Works by other artists also are on exhibit.


Creativity abounds in Lindsborg. Amid old-growth trees, the Red Barn Studio is a museum that creates a visual biography of Lester Raymer (1907–1991). A prolific artist, Raymer employed upcycling to create a number of his works, which are part of the permanent collection. A painter and self-taught ceramicist, Raymer also created woodcarvings, whimsical toys, and intricate textile projects. Consignment artworks by regional artists also are on exhibit at the studio.

Visit Small World Gallery to see stunning images of nature by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson. His wife, Kathy, and Briana Zimmerling design IBISwoman Jewelry, which is available at the gallery and online. Next door, Jim Turner’s beautiful black-and-white and color photos fill Turner Photography & The Brickstreet Gallery.


While the bright and airy two-story Courtyard Gallery showcases paintings, ceramics, and woodcraft by Midwestern artists – especially those from Kansas – the real surprise is a plant-filled dining area that resembles a Scandinavian courtyard. Here, customers may purchase Swedish pastries and cold drinks on the honor system.

Chess enthusiasts might enjoy watching scholastic and pro tournaments at Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess. While visiting Lindsborg in 2002 to train for an upcoming match in New York, Karpov was impressed with the city’s chess culture. The following year, he opened his first U.S. chess school in Lindsborg. Today, the school teaches and promotes chess through an annual summer camp and chess sessions held at nearby schools.

When visitors stop at Coronado Heights Park for the panoramic views of the Smoky Hills and quiet picnic spots, they’ll likely see a monument resembling a castle that dates to the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Some historians believe Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and his men viewed the surrounding valley in 1541.


Special events fill Lindsborg’s calendar this summer. On evenings during the third and fourth weekends of July, Broadway RFD Outdoor Theatre annually presents a summer musical at the Swensson Park Band Shell. In 2017, the state’s longest-running outdoor theater will present Beauty and the Beast, July 21–22 and 28–29.

Always a popular event, this year’s Smoky Valley Classic Car Show on Aug. 5 will feature more than 100 classic automobiles parked throughout shade-filled Swenson Park. Picnic from your own basket, check out the food booths, or grab a bite downtown. On Aug. 26, the Lindsborg Street Dance will draw hundreds of residents and visitors to Main Street.

This year’s Svensk Hyllingsfest, Oct. 13 and 14, honors Swedish immigrants who settled in the Smoky Valley in 1869. Swedish food, dance, and crafts complete the event that’s been hosted since 1941.

For a Swedish experience without the plane fare, spend a weekend exploring Lindsborg, where there’s always a friendly Välkommen (welcome).

Lisa Waterman Gray is a contributor from Overland Park, Kan.


For more information, contact the Lindsborg Convention and Visitors Bureau, (785) 227-8687 or visitlindsborg.com.

To visit Lindsborg, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, and TourBook® guides.Visit AAA.com/travel for a TripTik® Travel Planner.

Order free information about Kansas through the Free Information Card found online.

Svensk Hyllingsfest dancers. Lindsborg Chamber of Commerce




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