SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Augustana University is pulling out all the stops this year to celebrate a century of homecomings. This week, Augustana is bringing back decades of tradition during their annual Viking Days.
“With this year being the 100th year of homecoming, we wanted to celebrate as many things from the past as possible and bring them back to help make it super memorable,” Sam Skarstad, the Viking Days Committee co-chair, said.
One of the many events resurrected this year is the Ole Olympics, a forgotten tradition where teams can battle against the 10 students on the royal court in “Minute to Win It” challenges. If the teams beat the royals, they get to pie them in the face. Students will get the chance to participate in Ole Olympics during the kickoff event on Monday night at 5 p.m. on the Campus Green.
“Our goal for having all these events and special things during Viking Days is to highlight the past and remind students how deep the history of Augie goes and highlight the successes of students that have been here before us,” said Natalie Mohr, the other Viking Day Committee co-chair.
Mohr is most excited for the Viking Feast on Wednesday starting at 5 p.m.. The Feast will have musical performances, inflatables, henna and caricature artists and food at the Elmen Center. Following the feast is the Coronation Ceremony and a fireworks show, which is another tradition the Viking Day Committee is bringing back.
Liz Cisar, a collections assistant at The Center for Western Studies on Augustana’s campus, said the Coronation Ceremony and an Augustana Queen has been a strong tradition since the start of homecoming in 1924. According to Cisar, a King wasn’t added until 1982 and a few years ago, students elected to drop the gendered titles and just crown two royals.
Starting in 1996, the royal court ditched the matching dresses and made it a tradition to wear Norwegian sweaters during the ceremony; a tradition that still exists today. This year’s royal court includes both Mohr and Skarstad, along with Makena Schultz, Lauren Teller, Scott Shlanta, Luke Bacialli, Caleb Friesen, Henry Sule, Soniel Ngnotchue and JayVian Farr.
For the Viking Day centennial, Cisar curated an exhibit at The Center for Western Studies detailing the homecoming traditions throughout Augustana’s history. She spent months looking through original yearbooks and copies of the campus newspaper, The Mirror, to create “Viking Days: Like Always, Like Never Before.”
“The exhibit really talks about looking at that 100-year history,” Cisar said. “What are the things we recognize from the past? When did these traditions start? Which ones have actually been with us from the beginning? Which ones have fallen away?“
The exhibit will be on display until October and features stories and photos from old football games, parades and variety shows, along with memorabilia like vintage Viking Days buttons and old coronation crowns. The Center for Western Studies will be open until 7:30 p.m. on Friday and from 8-1 p.m. on Saturday to give alumni plenty of time to see the exhibit.
Mohr said all the committees in charge of planning Viking Days were able to pay homage to previous homecomings throughout the century in some way. The decorating committee decorated the main buildings on campus with a different decade. They are also running a series of features on different alumni from every decade.
“They got to meet some really cool alumni who accomplished some great things at Augie which let them reminisce and show students how Augie was back then,” Mohr said.
Mohr said the journalism department helped conduct the interviews and the articles will hopefully be published on the Augustana website and in the campus newspaper, The Mirror, soon.
Bailey Berghult, a member of the social media and marketing committee, designed a coloring book for the centennial homecoming, complete with pictures referencing Augustana and its Nordic history. Berghult is also the artist for the window mural outside the Commons.
“The students are recognizing what we’re doing for them this year and how special we’re trying to make the year,” Skarstad said. “I think they’re really responding well to that by participating in things and wanting to be involved in Viking Days because it’s so special this year.”
Here is a schedule of the Viking days events throughout the week. For exact locations visit the Augustana University website.
Monday, Sept. 18
5 p.m. – Viking Days Kickoff
Tuesday, Sept. 19
All day – Sailing Into Service
Wednesday, Sept. 20
5-7 p.m. – Viking Feast
7 p.m. – Coronation Ceremony
7 p.m. – Fireworks show
Thursday, Sept. 21
4-7 p.m. – Float building
5 p.m. – Class of 1973 50th Reunion pre-gathering. Registration is required.
Friday, Sept. 22
10 a.m. – Chapel Service
11:30-1 p.m. – Honor Guard Luncheon
4 p.m. – International students share experiences from home counties
5:30 p.m. – Class of 1973 50th Reunion Banquet dinner. Registration is required.
5:30-7:30 p.m. – Presidents & the Pond. Registration is encouraged.
7-9 p.m. – Homecoming 100th Anniversary: Alumni Art Invitational at Eide Gallery
7-9 p.m. – Thunder Road Night- family weekend
Saturday, Sept. 23
8-1 p.m. – Viking Days Exhibit at Center for Western Studies
8:30-10:30 a.m. – Viking Days Parade Pancake Feed
10:30 a.m. – Viking Days Parade
11 a.m. – Viking Days Tailgate
1 p.m. – Viking Football vs. MSU Moorhead
5 p.m. – Volleyball vs. Minnesota State University, Mankato
5 p.m. – 100 Years of Homecoming picnic
7 p.m. – 100 Years of Homecoming performance by David Austin
Sunday, Sept. 24
10 a.m. – Viking Days worship