Who We Are

The Sons of Norway is an international organization with a local connection in Mt. Horeb, WI. Additional lodges can be found across Canada, Norway, and the remainder of the United States of America. There are 51,600 members as of December, 2017. One goal of the Sons of Norway is to connect with communities and their residents by celebrating the customs and heritage of the Norwegian people. Vennelag Lodge (the Circle of Friends) holds meetings with either a social or cultural focus in the months of January through June, and from September through December. As a fraternal organization, Vennelag Lodge also offers optional financial benefits to its members.

Two large culinary events are shared with the public every year. A summer Kaffe Stue (coffee/lunch room) is held every July in conjunction with Mt. Horeb’s Annual Art Fair. Members prepare a Høst Frokost or fall breakfast the first Saturday of October. In addition, a popular Norwegian Baking Workshop is held the first Saturday of November and is open to all, including youth 9 years of age and older with adult supervision. A Juletrefest or Christmas Tree Festival occurs annually on the first Saturday in December.

Activities for children include riding on our Viking float in area parades, sponsorship at the Barnebirke or Children’s Ski Race held prior to the American Birkebeiner every February in Hayward, WI, and a two-week summer Norwegian heritage camp called Masse Moro, which means “lots of fun”! This camp is held at Beaver Creek Reserve near Fall Creek, WI. For more information, visit www.massemoro.org. Members receive discounts for camp attendance from both the local and district levels of the organization, making this unique camp experience very affordable.

As youth age, college scholarships, as well as travel opportunities are offered. A post-secondary opportunity to attend a folk high school in Norway is also possible. For more information, visit www.SofN.com, and click Foundation on the top ribbon then select scholarships. A program called Norway Connects also pairs young adults with businesses in Norway that can launch their careers. Attendance at a Norwegian university is an option for adults. Some prerequisites apply. Vennelag members have attended the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen.

Vennelag Lodge is a vibrant and active community partner, enriching the lives of area citizens through it philanthropic service and support. Should you need more information about Vennelag Lodge, please contact: Allen Watrud, Lodge President, at: awatrud@gmail.com or call: 608-772-1969.

History of Vennelag

Sons of Norway Lodge #5-513 was chartered in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin by Hilmen E. Kjorlie, President of the Supreme Lodge on November 19, 1971, with 83 charter members. The first official meeting was held on January 27, 1971, when the name for the new lodge was chosen. "Vennelag" means "Circle of Friends". By the time the charter was closed, 164 members had signed.

From the start, Vennelag Lodge members have participated in many community events such as the Summer Frolic and the former Song of Norway. They have welcomed visitors from Norway for many years. The Lodge has worked closely with the Mt. Horeb Area Historical Society to preserve Norwegian artifacts from area families. They were led by George Sievers whose involvement with the Lodge spanned over 30 years.

Numerous cultural activities have been implemented including bunad construction classes, knitting classes, Hardanger embroidery lessons, and rosemaling instruction. A book club also began. The S.S. Vennelag, a Viking ship float has sailed through area parades for approximately 3 decades, helping to put Mt. Horeb on everyone's radar!

Since 1979 a summer Kaffe Stue has been held every July. It has had numerous locations but now calls the Mt. Horeb Community Center, 107 N. Grove Street, its home. Over the course of time, a fall breakfast was added to the culinary line-up on the first Saturday in October. A Norwegian Baking Workshop was instituted, meeting the needs of many area residents. Recently, the Lodge began a lefse fundraiser which is held just prior to Christmas. Other fundraisers help the Ledge to fund high school and heritage camp scholarhips, and they provide money for noteworthy needs and projects.

Vennelag members have been active in Fifth District affairs, sending delegates to biennial conventions, and hosting the District 5 Board for dinner and for breakfast over years. Numerous individuals have also served in leadership positions on District 5 Board, and one person also served on the International Board of Directors. Vennelag has sent delegates to International Conventions, too.

Today, Vennelag is a vibrant and growing lodge, meeting the #Growingto2020 goal set by the International Board of Directors in 2017. The Lodge continues to fill the need felt in 1971...for an organization that could express the desires and interests of local Norwegian-Americans who now call the Mt. Horeb area home.

Vennelag Lodge is a proud community partner!

Our Lodge has contributed seed money to launch the Blue Mound Nordic Ski Team. We are a supporter of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation’s Barnebirkie ski event each February, and we contribute event workers and cookies to feed participating families there.

Vennelag Lodge paid for the painting of the Mt. Horeb Community Center Building. We have given a three year sustaining donation to the Mt. Horeb Historium for the preservation and conservation of antique items from the Little Norway Collection.

Each year, we provide youth scholarships to District 5’s heritage camp, Masse Moro, serving our youth members ages 9-15. Vennelag Lodge sent a donation to the Mt. Horeb High School Band trip to London. Beginning in 2018, Vennelag’s high school scholarship increases to $1,000.00 annually, and henceforth one scholarship at that amount will be awarded each May.

Middle School students benefit from a Norway project presented by Lodge members in traditional national costumes.

An object is donated to the Optimist Auction each February, and our lodge also contributes one gift to the Christmas Giving Tree project. Our members provide contributions to the Mt. Horeb Clothes Closet, too. A food collection is also taken for the local food pantry in November.

Beginning in the summer of 2018, Vennelag has a new community service project. We have been assigned a portion of the Military Ridge Bike Trail for clean-up. Also new this year, is service to Milestone Senior Living, where some of our former members reside.

We welcome you to join the busy and proud Norwegian-Americans in Vennelag Lodge who are making a difference in their community. For further information, contact: Allen Watrud, Lodge President, at: awatrud@gmail.com or call: 608-772-1969.

Executive Committee

Allen Watrud
1st Vice President
Arlene Watrud-Krueger
2nd Vice President
Harley Skjervem
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
Donna Corcoran
Anna Olson

Program Directors

Cultural/Social Director
Tiffany Schwoerer
Food Chairman
Ann Walser
Sports and Recreation Director
Steve Frame
Harley Skjervem
Youth Director
Martin Amundsen

Supporting Directors

John Eberhardt, Arthur Ness, Rita Schraepfer-Derke
Publicity Director
Arthur Ness
Newsletter Editor
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
Evan Ellis
Lynn Schwoerer
Nathan Albrecht
Musician's Contact
Brenda Martin
Linda Coughlin
Marshal and Assistant Marshal
Positions will be assigned before any special lodge event such as Installation of Officers.
Those who are on the set-up crew for a monthly meeting will also serve as greeters for that day.
Frokost and Kaffe Stue Committees
(These events would not be successful without the input and support of all members)