Ella – July 3, 2017

As I’m learning more about my culture and heritage, I continue to be struck by the many connections and similarities between Chicago and Denmark and the strong bond between the countries that goes beyond just our ancestors.

On the 4th of July, my family will put out our American flag, stake our favorite community parade spot with folding chairs, host a cookout, and settle in after dark for fireworks.

I never thought that other countries might celebrate the 4th of July, because it marks American independence.

The Rebildfest began in 1912 when a group of Danish Americans bought 200 acres in Rebild, Denmark, so they would have a place to gather and celebrate America’s birthday. The land was later donated to the state of Denmark and was the first National Park. Max Henius, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1881, was instrumental in starting this tradition.

America’s birthday in Denmark? Indeed. Celebrating the best of both worlds, the festival includes keynote speakers from Denmark and the U.S. This year’s keynote speaker is Rene Gross Kaerskov, who grew up in Northern Jutland, Denmark, and is living the American dream as the director of the world’s largest hotel design company, HBA, and as one of the founders of the Danish watch brand BERING.

Musical performances are from the Prince’s Band, which is one of the Danish Defense’s three bands, the Berea College Blue Grass Ensemble from Berea, Kentucky, and The Ohio State University Dancers. I imagine for many it is a delightful mix of what they love about their native country and their adopted country.

The Ohio State University dancers are part of the 2017 Rebildfest entertainment.

The Ohio State University dancers are part of the 2017 Rebildfest entertainment, celebrating America’s birthday in Denmark.

I can hardly imagine what it is like walking up the hills to see flags of the 50 United States flying together in Denmark, as the flags are sold as part of a fundraiser and welcome guests to the festival.

Apparently many Americans plan their summer vacations to attend the Rebildfest.

I thought this combination of cultures could make for some interesting summer cuisine, but the Rebildfest menu will be much like what I will be serving in my own backyard, including hot dogs and ice cream.

While I traditionally bake a good old-fashioned cherry pie for my guests, this year I am going to introduce my friends and family to Danish linser pies in my own attempt to bring the American and Danish traditions together on the 4th of July.