Suvi Peterson outside the Lindsten Stuga, a log house typical of the early Maine Swedish colonists.
Photo Credit : Greta Rybus
Each summer, visitors from all over the world come to Aroostook County, a far-flung destination in northernmost Maine, to take part in a solstice celebration called Midsommar. The three-day festival is held in Stockholm and New Sweden, a pair of small villages in the heart of the Maine Swedish Colony. And as writer Katy Kelleher discovered when she recently took part in Midsommar, the event is steadfastly traditional. “The settlers came from Sweden in 1870, and we’ve never really changed how we celebrated,” organizer Brenda Näsberg Jepson told her. “To modern-day Swedes, our Midsommar seems quaint and old-fashioned.”
In reporting on her trip for Yankee, Kelleher said the event’s fidelity to its roots is exactly what makes it so special. “There is something transformative about [Midsommar] … Jepson says it’s like ‘walking into a time warp,’ and I’m inclined to agree.”
In providing the images for Kelleher’s words, Portland-based photographer Greta Rybus also had the chance to step back into the past. What she found was a feast for the eyes, from vibrant folk costumes to heaps of wildflowers to mouthwatering heritage foods and one magnificent maypole. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite outtakes from Rybus’s trip. To read the full story, see “Välkommen to Midsommar,” from the May/June 2019 issueof Yankee.
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Special thanks to University of Maine student Lukas Lagasse, one of the next generation of Midsommar organizers, whose help was invaluable in writing captions for Yankee’s story and for this post.