History of Lodges
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, 1972, 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 a 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 each 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 Lodge to fund high school and heritage camp scholarships, 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 the 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 #Growing to 2020 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.
Submitted by: Cheryl Wille-Schlesser, Lodge President, January, 2018