The Friendly Fifth



What a momentous event it was!
The 2024 Barnebirkie in Hayward, WI, took on a different feel this year with no measurable snow on the ground. How does one ski without snow? They improvise! The children were challenged with a running race. Believe it or not, the running race ended in downtown Hayward, just a few steps away from the Sons of Norway cookie tent!
Our members did not disappoint the participants. A total of 601.5 dozen cookies were provided by our members and many lodges contributed money to help with the effort. Our volunteers came out in full force from many area lodges; some driving distances of more than five hours!

See below for the names of the contributing lodges and the amounts. In addition, those lodges who sent monetary donations are also listed. Please update me if I am unaware of your donation.

The day began early with District Secretary Darlene Arneson and her husband John setting up the tables and arranging the tents. Cookies were placed on the tables and the kids were encouraged to take a maximum of three cookies. This newly instituted plan was necessary due to the uncertainty of the number of youngsters, and it worked like a charm! President Cheryl was a member of the registration team and checked in many youth skiers where she has worked for many years. Handing out bib numbers and seeing the excitement on the faces of the children is rewarding. Explaining to the youngest skiers that they have a “lucky” number brings joy to many. As the Birkebeiner Foundation likes to share, “this is the place where Birkebeiner dreams begin.” I am proud of the unbelievable number of volunteers who reported to help this year from across the district.

In addition, several friends of our members also assisted with this endeavor. To the best of my knowledge the list below is thorough. If I have omitted someone, please let me know. John and Darlene Arneson-Mandt 314; William Bosak-Dovre 353; Wendy and Kimball Higgins-Valhall 168; Carla Burkhardt-Wergeland 28; Judy Keilholz-Dovre 353; Kathy Nelson-Løven 29; Audrey Parrett-Løven 29; LaVonne Wier-Fagernes 616; Judy Ghastin-Norse Valley 491; Lucy Ghastin-Idun 74; Cheryl Wille-Schlesser-Vennelag 513.
In addition, several friends of our members also assisted with this endeavor. A special thank you is extended to Judy and Lucy Ghastin who rose up to organize the cookie table at the Expo Center at Hayward High School. The classic skiers report to this location to pick up their timing chips, packs, and race bibs.
The dreams of the organizers are to return to the normal number of participants for 2025; the youth skiers usually number between 700 to 900!
Takk for hjelpen oss,
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
D5 President

Cookie Donations by Lodge
Dovre 353--48 dozen; Løven 029--61 dozen; Ulseth 670--8 dozen; Fagernes 616--52 dozen; Solvang 457—42 dozen; Wergeland 28--10 dozen;
Idun 74--72 dozen; Mandt 314--110.5 dozen; Østestaden 642--44 dozen; Vennelag 513--35 dozen; Norse Valley 491--21 dozen; Polar Star 472--67 dozen; Valhall 168--31 dozen. 

2024 Barnebirkie Expo Cookie Booth Report

We enjoyed meeting people from around the world at the Expo Cookie Booth again this year.
Our location was different from last year and the first day several people said they had trouble finding us. Many approached the booth with a comment such as “our favorite booth,” “my child keeps asking when we will find the cookies,” or “we look forward to your booth every
year.” There were many “Thanks for doing this,” and “It’s so nice of you to do this.”

We made about 18 gallons of coffee and served so many cookies it was impossible to keep count…90+ dozen to start and many dozens of cookies
left from the Cookie Tent. 

LaVonne Weir advocated for us when she arrived early and arranged for a second table for cookies and tables for Masse Moro.  She led a major cheerleading campaign doing her publicity thing for the camp on Thursday and on Friday morning during the times she was at the Expo.
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser, and Darlene and John Arneson joined the crew after working downtown.  They took on promoting camp, filling water bottles, and refreshing cookie platters while visiting with people besides making a run to the store.

Visitors were generous with donations.  They contributed over $500 to the Nordic Legacy Foundation to help us support young skiers at the
Barnebirkie and youth at camp.

Mange tusen takk to all who contributed to the Birkie in any way. Your efforts were truly appreciated.
Lucy and Judy Ghastin

2024 Barnebirkie

Looking for 2024 Barnebirkie Photos 

Birkie Cookie Round Up and Volunteer Call

The Fifth District of the Sons of Norway will be assisting with the children’s cross country ski race for ages 3-13 in Hayward, WI, on February 22, 2024. District members volunteer to work in the registration area before the race, and they pass out cookies at the end of the course. Members also meet and greet adult skiers later in the day at the EXPO CENTER held inside Hayward High School. It is exciting to interact with skiers from across the world at this international event.
We are asking our members to consider baking for this event. Please refrain from the use of nuts in any of the cookies you make due to allergy concerns in our youth participants. The kiddos enjoy all kinds of cookies, but the most popular are chocolate chip varieties. They also enjoy frosted sugar cookies. Some racers like homemade raisin oatmeal cookies, too! Baking one of your family’s favorites is certain to be a winner!
After the cookies are distributed in the Celebration Tent, the excess is moved to Hayward High School where the classic skiers come to obtain their timing chips and bibs. These skiers look forward to seeing our smiling faces, but mostly, they enjoy the homemade cookies made by our Sons of Norway members! Adults savor spice cookies and healthy varieties: molasses, Snickerdoodles, ginger, pepperkaker, and cardamom. Our district goal each year is 1,000 dozen cookies-yes, you read that correctly! Oreo cookies are also popular.
SNOW UPDATE-American Birkebeiner is hosting a call on February 12 to announce the plans for this year’s event as they assess snow conditions!

Most of our volunteers will be leaving for the Barnebirkie on Wednesday, February 21st (sooner if inclement weather is forecast). Additional cars will be heading north to help deliver the cookies and volunteers will help in a variety of locations. You may also deliver cookies to District Secretary Darlene Arneson, President Cheryl- Wille Schlesser or drop them off at Open House Imports in Mt. Horeb. Darlene is willing to meet the Illinois lodges on Tuesday, February 20 at 5:30 PM at the Pilot Gas Station (exit 185) in Beloit. We also have volunteers coming from other parts of the District and are compiling a list for next week’s FFFN.  Thank you for your support in helping to make the Barnebirkie a memorable event for the littlest skiers of all.

We plan on having a call for all our Birkie volunteers on Sunday, February 18, at 6 PM CST to discuss what needs to be done, cookie pick-ups, and other details so we are prepared for the week’s activities in Hayward!
Please contact Darlene Arneson at for the call information.

Barnebirkie 2024

Hello, All!
  This info is hot from the presses at the Birkie office in Hayward, WI. There is no snow worth mentioning, but evenings provide the time to make snow!
We have enough workers for the registration area, but there is only one worker signed up for the cookie tent. Thank you, Carla! I know others are planning on helping, and it would be great to get you registered this week. The crew chief and I spoke earlier today. She is aware that we may need supplemental workers, but I would be thrilled to fill this slot from within our organization. Information on how to register is in the attached communique.
The good will we impart through our efforts is immeasurable. Thank you for all you do to promote the Sons of Norway in your area, and I am proud to call you a member of the Friendly Fifth District.
Takk så mye-thanks so much,


P.S. There is one free bed in my room at the casino hotel should someone wish accommodations.

Thank you for your Barnebirkie efforts!

I share with you two messages I received from Birkebeiner administrators concerning our volunteer work at the Birkebeiner Event this past week. We had Sons of Norway volunteers: Judith and Lucy Chastin, Sandra Olson and Cheryl Wille-Schlesser as well as my wife Robin Fossum and me. The coffee, cookies and information booth at the EXPO center garnered over $1370 in contributions. While there were fewer children skiers due to the inclement weather (500 bibs were handed out) the reception by the young skiers was really great. We made it to the Destination Tent. The people from Swiss Miss in Menomonie who were to pass out cocoa didn’t.
Med vennlig hilsen,
Robert Fossum,
District 5 Sports Director
From: Colleen Graham

The 2023 Barnebirkie is a wrap and it was EPIC! The snow and wind made it impossible for many of our volunteers to get to Hayward. Luckily, the ones who did make it were willing to do whatever was needed to make the event a success. Somehow, the weather didn’t seem to affect our skiers nearly as much since almost 500 bibs were picked up. Best guess is that our numbers were down by about a third, which, given the conditions, was amazing.

Special thanks to Bill & Jane Butsic who stepped up to lead the cocoa effort in the absence of the Swiss Miss crew from Menominee; and, Robert & Robin Fossum who represented the Sons of Norway with hundreds of dozens of cookies. Also, kudos to Sue Scheer and Linda Fenton who came to watch the Barkiebirkie but stayed to dole out cookies.  And to the rest of you (Wendy, Stephanie, Karen, Jan, Kerry) thanks for being willing to handle all the tasks you didn’t sign up for whether pouring cocoa, moving furniture, directing traffic, cleaning up the aftermath, or chasing lost kids. Your number was small but your accomplishment was great.
Best regards,
Colleen Graham

From: Ronda Tworek:

Good day, Robert
Thank you for your time and efforts volunteering with the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. We would not be able to host World Class events without your help. So, we truly appreciate you and your willingness to lend a hand.

The mission of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is: 
  • To support healthy and active lifestyles among people of all ages and abilities.
  • To serve as good stewards of the American Birkebeiner Trail; 
  • To promote and conduct the finest international cross country ski competition; 
Our Core Values are: 
  • Bring Joy
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Be a Team Player
  • Look For Ways to Innovate
  • Facilitate Diversity
  • Lead by Example
  • Get Stuff Done (GSD)     
By volunteering and giving back to the events of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, you're showing our participants and communities what it is to be a part of something larger than ourselves. Sharing smiles and Being a Team Player is what it's all about. Helping others and Serving as Good Stewards of the beautiful and challenging Birkie Trail. Thank you for Bringing Joy to so many for the 49th Annual American Birkebeiner.
There are a few quotes below that we like to share that captures our gratitude for your assistance over the week of amazing events.

 “That’s what I think a meaningful life is. Living not for oneself, but for one’s community.” - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 
 “Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Should you have comments to share, or feedback on events, please feel free to reach out to us at the contact information below.
Looking ahead to the 50th American Birkebeiner - join us Birkie Week, February 21 - 25, 2024!
Until we meet again, Happy Trails!

Yours truly,
Ronda Tworek
Director of Volunteers American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation

Barnebirkie 2023

The 2023 Birkebeiner will be held in Hayward WI as planned.  Sons of Norway District 5 is proud to be a sponsor of the events surrounding the main race. In particular we provide coffee and cookies at a booth in the EXPO Center on Thursday and Friday, 23 and 24 February 2023. The Expo Center is where skiers register for the various races, where exhibitors display their goods and where visitors can get a cup of coffee and a cookie at the Sons of Norway booth. We also provide cookies at the finish tent in downtown Hayward on the day of the Barnebirkie children’s race on Thursday 23 February 2023. 

Sons of Norway contributions to the events during the week have been recognized in the past as the organization received an award from the organizers of the race several years ago. So our efforts are really appreciated.

In order to fully prepare for the Barnebirkie Race on Thursday 23 February and the EXPO Center Booth on Thursday and Friday 23-24 February I am asking the lodges to inform me of
·      The number (in dozens) of cookies they plan to contribute.
·      How these cookies will get to Hayward.,
·      How many volunteers will be coming to work in the cookie line at the finish tent.
·      How many volunteers will be hekping at the EXPO Center.
This information should be sent to
at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your helping with this great event.
Robert Fossum
Sports Direcdtor 
District 5
Sons of Norway

Barnebirkie Plans 2023

Barnebirkie Plans 2023
Date: February 23, 2023
Location: Hayward, Wisconsin
D5 Sports Director: Robert, or 715.924.4111 or text me at 715.642.2872

As of this date, the Hayward Birkie Foundation is planning a Barnebirkie that will look more usual with the event being held on Thursday, February 23, 2023. A Celebration Cookie Tent is in the plans with Sons of Norway District 5 providing cookies for the young skiers Thursday morning. Details below. We have also reserved a table in the Expo Center to provide cookies and coffee for the adult/attendees. We need volunteers for the tent Thursday morning and also for volunteers to keep coffee flowing in the Expo on Thursday and Friday during the day. We can divide the Expo into 2 shifts if necessary.

If you are interested, please contact
Robert Fossum at, or 715.924.4111 or text me at 715.6422872 as soon as possible.

We are asking Lodges to contribute cookies homemade or purchased without nuts to prevent nut allergies.  Healthy oatmeal, lower-sugar or gluten free type cookies for the Barnebirkie and Expo are sometimes requested. They usually have over 900 Barnebirkie skiers so we need lots of cookies for the Barnebirkie and many cookies at the registration area at the EXPO Center. If you are sending cookies, please email Robert Fossum the estimated number you will be sending up so he can plan accordingly.

To find a way to transport your cookies, check with Robert Fossum to see who is going from your area and watch the FFFN for updates! Please put your lodge name and #dozen of cookies on each non-returnable container. We ask that none of the cookies have nuts please! Thank you!

Colleen Graham, Barnebirkie Finish Line Chief, knows that Sons of Norway will provide cookies and send a crew to serve cookies for the event.
The details are as follows.
Race day is Thursday, February 23. The first of three waves starts at 11:30 so we would expect to start seeing skiers in the tent by 11:45. Most likely all will have been through the tent around 1:00 PM.

Volunteer cookie crew members must register in order to participate.
The volunteer website can be found at and the password 23BarneFinish needs to be entered
in order to see the Barnie slots. Please, if you plan to be on the cookie crew, enter your info and complete the waiver at your earliest convenience. The Birkie office orders lunches based on volunteer sign-ups.

Robert Fossum: D5 Sports Director

Barnebirkie Kjeks
Remember that District 5 Sons of Norway lodges contribute cookies (kjeks) and volunteers during the Barne Birkie race on 23 Feb 2023 and during registration at the EXPO Center on 23 and 24 Feb. 2023. How cookies will get to Hayward for the 23rd Feb will be announced later. Happy New Year.
Volunteer cookie crew members must register in order to participate. The volunteer website can be found at and the password 23BarneFinish needs to be entered in order to see the BarneBirkie slots. Please, if you plan to be on the cookie crew, enter your info and complete the waiver at your earliest convenience. The Birkie office orders lunches based on volunteer sign-ups.

District 5 awarded the Shellie Milford Spirit of the Birkie Award - 2018


District 5 earned the Shellie Milford Spirit of the Birkie Award for over 30 years of service to the Foundation. Members from many District 5 Lodges assist with this worthy event each year. Their jobs include: baking thousands of cookies, registering children for the Barnebirke ski event, serving cookies to young skiers and their families, and helping to move materials across Hayward as needed.


In addition, other members meet and greet classic skiers at the Expo Center, and they distribute Sons of Norway materials. Cookies are donated to guests, but being frugal Norwegians, there is a charge for a good cup of coffee! Other members are involved in planning and preparing a luncheon for Birke volunteers and for the Ski Patrol staff.


We are proud to represent District 5 and the Sons of Norway each year as the Nordic lifestyle is celebrated in the Midwest. The American Birkebeiner has had participants from 49 states and 36 countries over the course of its operation.