A Little Bit of Sweden in Lindsborg, Kansas by Bonnie and Bill Neely

What a find in the middle of a long, boring drive! Whether you are crossing the country going East-West on 70 or North-South on 135, this little Swedish town is really worth a stop…for a meal, a day, or a week-end! Just about fifteen minutes South of Salina, Kansas, four miles west of Hwy135 you’ll find this little jewel in the middle of America’s heartland of beautiful farms.

In the late 1800’s when Scandinavian settlers were given free land to help develop the American West ten thousand Swedes came here to farm the land. They built this wonderful town with their hard labor, and four generations have kept it as pristine and scenic as their forefather’s homeland in the Old World.

Original settlers were predominantly Lutheran, and the pretty Bethany Lutheran Church and Bethany College (Click here or call 1-800-826-2281) are important parts of this community. The college, for over a century, has been known for fine arts education. Many of the visual artists have stayed in this community, where tourists can benefit, enjoying the art and craft galleries and shops. Every visitor must see the wonderful Sandzen Gallery Museum at 403 North First St. (Hours 1 – 5 Tues through Sunday, closed Mondays.) Docent tours are available for groups with two-week’s advance appointment. (Click here or call 1-785-227-2220.

The other place history buffs will want to visit is McPherson County Old Mill Museum & Heritage Square with the 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Flour Mill and the Swedish pavilion from the 1904 World’s Fair.
Painters, glass artists, potters, fiber artists, wood craftsmen, and photographers have beautiful creations for sale or display throughout the town. Plan to spend hours enjoying these creations and selecting some to purchase. You’ll also find wonderful shops featuring authentic Swedish gifts from “the old world.” Swedish Crafts, Lindsborg, KSOur favorite shop was “Swedish Crafts,” (1-785-227-2311) where we found a large store filled with delightful colorful items of the finest quality. The owners, Hilding and Esther Jaderborg, grew up here and have a wealth of information about this wonderful little town. Stop in and let them tell you all about their heritage and their love for their community. This is a great place to find really well-crafted, unique items and to do your gift shopping for the year!

Bethany College for 124 years has also been internationally famous for the marvelous production of the complete Handel’s Messiah each year during Easter week. The world class opera singer Rebecca Copley (Johnson), whose father was a professor in Bethany’s Music School for many years, grew up here and sang in this performance as a young woman. Each year dedicated musicians devote nearly three months to rehearse the Messiah and then present three outstanding performances at a time of year which is not traditionally the selected season for Handel’s great work. For years the concerts have had standing room only, so Click here to buy your tickets in advance.
You’ll find two unique factories in Lindsborg also. Just across the street from Swedish Crafts store is “Hemslojd”, (Click here)

” You’ll find lots of handmade wooden Swedish items here, and in back of the shop is the factory where the red, hand-painted, Dala horses, the symbol of Sweden, are made in the United States. Dala Horses, Lindsborg, KansasEach horse is handmade, carved and painted, and you’ll find these delightful and colorful steeds in many sizes. Notice that large ones decorate the spotless brick streets of the pretty downtown.

The second unique factory is the manufacturer of Dala Clogs, shoes for extreme comfort and practicality. Some of these styles are hand-painted in bright Swedish designs. All their shoes feature odor-absorbing material, padded lining, shock-absorbing heels, energy foam soles, wide toe-box, and adjustable straps. The factory has a shop on North Main street called Clogs & Such, where you’ll find all their styles for men, women and children, as well as Vera Bradley handbags and accesories and Bra-Sko shoes from Sweden. You can also find these shoes by clicking here

Sweden is noted for its delicious cuisine, and you’ll not be disappointed here in Lindsborg. There are several restaurants, cafes, and bakeries with the wonderful and world-famous Swedish dishes. Be sure to enjoy Swedish pancakes! You can take some of these goodies home with you from Scott’s Thriftway, courtyard Bakery & Kafe, Swedish Country Inn, Swedish Pastries and Emporium, and The Cookery & Swedish Crown…so don’t leave for home without a good supply! And arrange a week-end to stay at the lovely Rosberg Bed and Breakfast. A specially fun time to visit is Midsummer’s Day.