GREENVILLE — Turnout was good Thursday evening for the official start of this year’s Danish Festival.
Held at Heritage Park, the event featured appearances by several area dignitaries, the Danish Festival queen and her court, the Danish Festival Band and this year’s grand marshal Katherine Hansen. Also on hand were members of Greenville’s VFW and American Legion posts, who presided over the flag raising ceremony.
Greenville Mayor John Hoppough got things started by welcoming the audience to the ceremony and giving a brief history of the Danish Festival.
“I’m proud to be from the Greenville area, where ideas and dreams can and do become reality,” Hoppough said. “The Danish Festival is an example of someone’s monumental idea to make this a very special place.”
Hoppough went on to outline the festival’s beginning in 1964, when a contest was held to come up with ideas to promote Greenville. The winning idea was, of course, a festival to celebrate the city’s Danish heritage. The Danish Festival has been held every year since and has continued to grow in size each year.
“The first Danish Festival was held on Aug. 18, 1965,” Hoppough said. “Today a 23-member board of directors and hundreds of volunteers are responsible for developing and presenting the festival which brings in 85,000 people. What an opportunity.”
Grand marshal Kate Hansen approached the podium to a large wave of applause. Hansen opened her comments by giving a little family history.
Hansen’s family first came to the area and purchased a farm in 1872. That farm remains in the Hansen family to this day.
“(The farm) has never been sold and never been broken up,” Hansen said. “And hopefully, it’ll continue holding the Larsens together for years to come.”
Hansen took a few moments to pose for photographs with this year’s Danish Fest queen and court. Dozens of those gathered rushed in to catch the shot on camera phones.
The Danish Festival Band performed several songs throughout the ceremony, including the National Anthem during the flag raising ceremony.
Following the singing of the National Anthem, Nels Hansen performed a rendition of the Danish National Anthem, which drew appreciative applause.
Danish Festival Board President Daniel Healy introduced members of the board as well as several key volunteers who help make the festival possible.
“It wouldn’t be possible without them,” Healy said.
Following the program at Heritage Park, the Danish Festival Band marched to the pavilion near the river, where they performed for the audience gathered there.