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Nisswa-stämman Scandinavian Folk Music Festival heads into 15th year

Nisswa-stämman started 15 years ago, when Paul Wilson returned from a trip to Sweden and Norway.

Wilson is a local folk musician who has been playing fiddle and accordion for a living for the last 34 years. He and his wife, Mary Abendroth, perform and promote Scandinavian folk music in Minnesota and around the Midwest.

Being folk musicians is nothing that will ever make them rich in financial terms, but it has rewarded the couple many times over with the joy they have been able to bring to people’s lives from the very young to the very old.

In 1989, Wilson and Abendroth were on a “music rejuvenating and reinvigorating” trip to Scandinavia to attend fiddlers gatherings and festivals. When Wilson got home, he thought about organizing a Scandinavian style fiddlers gathering in the Brainerd lakes area, since he already knew so many fiddlers and musicians around the state.

One day when he drove by the Pioneer Village in Nisswa, he was taken with the historic log structures and Norway pines creating great shady places for musicians to gather and jam together. Wilson’s friend, Ingrid Anderson of Lake Shore, introduced him to Dick Carlson, who has deep Swedish roots and is president of the Nisswa Area Historical Society.

Soon Wilson found himself making plans for the first Nisswa-stämman (pronounced “stemman”) Scandinavian Folk Music Festival at the Nisswa Pioneer Village. The first event in 1990 was a rousing success beyond his wildest dreams and he realized he was “stuck” with it for as long as people wanted to come play, dance or just listen.

More information can be read about Paul & Mary at: