Fargo mother, daughter help family member create garment to wear in Rose ParadeFARGO - With careful stitches, Mary Hoffmann pieces together the white linen blouse. Her daughter, Emily Brooks, adorns its front and back with elaborate, white-on-white embroidery. A Nordic horse. A rose. A Celtic symbol.
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM
Fargo - With careful stitches, Mary Hoffmann pieces together the white linen blouse. Her daughter, Emily Brooks, adorns its front and back with elaborate, white-on-white embroidery.
A Nordic horse. A rose. A Celtic symbol.
It’s the story of Brooks’ cousin, Shari MacCallum Clark, of Berthoud, Colo., who will wear the blouse while riding in Wednesday’s Rose Parade.
It’s also the story of their Norwegian ancestors, particularly Brooks’ and Clark’s great-grandmother Anna Bergem, who ran the ranch near Watford City, N.D., after her husband’s death, and who passed down through the generations a legacy of sewing and needlework.
Hoffmann and Brooks, of Fargo, are helping Clark create a modern take on a bunad, a traditional Norwegian garment worn for special events.
Clark, a longtime horse lover who grew up in Minnesota, will be one of the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry riders in the 125th Rose Parade.
Clark does dressage, a form of precision riding, with the Starfire Farm Quadrille Team in Berthoud. The group performs on their Fjord horses, an ancient breed known for its dorsal stripe and mane, to a live orchestra at National Western Stock Show in Denver.
Clark will ride a rare yellow dun mare named Yenna, on loan from a Wisconsin horse farm, along the 5½-mile route.
‘ALWAYS ABOUT PRESENTATION’
Once selected, Clark knew she needed a costume. “A parade is always about presentation,” she says.
But when she looked into getting an authentic bunad from her ancestral region of Norway, she was told it would cost a minimum of $5,000.
She decided to make her own bunad, taking a few liberties to make it more modern.
“I want to do this in a traditional style, but there’s no reason I have to do this Old World,” Clark says.
She knew she could sew the long skirt, red vest and velvet cape, but she wanted the blouse to tell a story.
That’s where her aunt, Hoffmann, and cousin, Brooks, come in.
Brooks sells modern embroidered pillows, hoop art, cards and other items through her business, Taea Made.
Hoffmann taught home economics at Fargo South High School, as well as apparel and design classes at North Dakota State University and Concordia College. Her expertise in pattern-making allowed her to modify the shirt, incorporating traditional elements while tailoring it.
“I can make the shirt nice, and Emily can make it beautiful,” Hoffmann says.
To adhere to tradition, Hoffmann borrowed books about bunads from the Sons of Norway in Fargo.
Doreen Grobe, librarian at the Sons of Norway, says traditional bunads, made of wool and hand-embroidered, are created in a specific style and color to represent the region of the wearer.
But, Grobe says, liberties can be taken for bunad replicas, which she’s seen worn at folk dances.
“I guess people don’t particularly mind some changes,” Grobe says, “… but it would fall more into a costume category.”
Hoffmann and Brooks acknowledge they are making an updated, nontraditional bunad.
“We’re only learning,” Hoffmann says.
One deviation, Brooks says, is the use of the Celtic symbol for Epona, the logo for Clark’s health and wellness studio, on the back of the shirt. It features three horses in a circle.
Given the subtlety of the white embroidery, and the coverage of Clark’s vest and cape, many of the details of the blouse may be lost to parade viewers.
Clark will also wear a wedding crown on loan from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, and her great-grandmother Bergem’s wedding brooch.
“I don’t think I dressed this nice for my own wedding,” Clark jokes.
Clark says riding in the Rose Parade is “one of the ultimate things you can do with your horse.”
She describes her participation in the event as a celebration of the New Year, a celebration of horses and a celebration of her ancestors.
“They were cattle people, they were textile people, they were from Norway,” she says. “You’re able to share the evolution, the faces of your ancestors.”
She also plans to continue to wear her bunad, especially the white blouse made by her Fargo family.
“Part of a bunad, I believe, is telling your story, your familial story,” Clark says. “When my great-grandchildren pull this out of the trunk, it will tell something about me.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556
What: 125th Rose Parade
When: 10 a.m. Wednesday; the Fjord horses are 79th in the parade order, according to a Rose Parade media guide.
Channels: ABC, NBC, Hallmark, HGTV, RFDTV
Online: www.tournamentofroses.com; www.nfhr.com; sharimaccallum.com