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More than just lutefisk and meatballs

Susan Remmele, Alma Bockelie, Deanna Dowell and Jan Beck display different styles of bunads at the Bremerton Sons of Norway lodge’s lutefisk dinner on Sunday. - Photo by Charles Melton
Susan Remmele, Alma Bockelie, Deanna Dowell and Jan Beck display different styles of bunads at the Bremerton Sons of Norway lodge’s lutefisk dinner on Sunday.
— image credit: Photo by Charles Melton

With the smells of lutefisk, potatoes and meatballs filling the air, the Bremerton Sons of Norway lodge was awash Sunday in Scandinavian culture from years gone-by.

As they have on annual basis lodge members donned their traditional attire and opened the lodge’s doors to the public as hundreds of people flocked to the social hall.

“We’ve had about 200 people so far, and it’s going great,” lodge president Susan Remmele said as the event entered its third hour.

The steady stream of people was a positive sign as lodge members greeted many familiar friendly, smiling faces.

Among those faces was Agnes Blomlie, who lodge members refer to as the lodge’s matriarch, since her husband founded the lodge.

“It’s just my life,” Blomlie said. “This is what the lodge is all about.”

Even though Blomlie said she isn’t as active in the lodge as she once was, the lutefisk dinner is a time to see many friends she hasn’t seen in awhile.

“We cannot see each for six months, and it’s like we’ve known each other for years,” Blomlie said.

For those including Blomlie, who enjoy the codfish delicacy, Rommele had positive news to report.

“Everyone’s saying they love it, and that this is the best it’s ever been,” Remmele said of the lye-soaked codfish, which highlighted the event.

While Remmele and other lodge members were indoors serving lutefisk and all the fixings, Svenn Loulie and Lawrence Greaves were part of the crew preparing the main course in back of the lodge.

“You’ve got to love it,” said Loulie, who has been cooking lutefisk for the event for the past 30 years.

The ‘fisk arrived in 50-pound bags from the New Day Fisheries in Port Townsend to the lodge, where it was pared down into seven-pound increments and wrapped in cheese cloth.

The cod was then boiled before being placed in the steam kettles before making its way to the social hall.

“This is the best it’s ever been,” Loulie said.

Although lutefisk was the headliner of the event, many of the women displayed different variations of the bunad, which is the traditional dress worn by Norwegian women.

“My bunad is from Akershus, which is just outside of Oslo,” lodge member Jan Beck said.

Different areas of Norway put their own touches on the bunad, and Beck’s was reflective of her family’s Norwegian roots, which date back to her great, great grandmother.

Remmele’s colorful bunad was a tribute to her family’s heritage, which hails from Buskerud, an area outside of Oslo.

Her bunad along with Beck’s are traditionally worn for special occasions, while lodge member Deanna Dowell wore a hardinger bunad, Remmele noted.

Lodge member Alma Bockelie, who was also clad in a bunad, said each region of Norway puts it own touch on the traditional Norwegian attire.

“There are all different types, and each area has their own,” Bockelie said.

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