Santa Ynez Valley News ~ ‘Velkommen igen to Solvang Danish Days’: Third maid to preside over annual festival

Lisa André | September 9, 2022

Santa Ynez Valley News: 'Velkommen igen to Solvang Danish Days': Third maid to preside over annual festival

Left to right: 2020 Danish Maid, Isabella Lopez; 2021 Danish Maid, Kayla Bandel; 2022 Danish Maid, Aleena Madrid. {Photo Credit: Mike Mesikep}

Santa Ynez High School senior Aleena Madrid will join the ranks of 84 Danish Days maids that came before her as the annual festival celebrates its 85th year in Solvang.

The 17-year-old will preside over this year’s Danish Days event as the 2022 Solvang Danish Days maid alongside 2020 and 2021 Danish maids Isabella Lopez and Kayla Bandel, respectively.

The trio of maids represents a first in the festival’s history, with more than one maid sharing the royal title.

According to Brenda Anderson, Danish Days Foundation board member and 2022 festival co-chair, the unprecedented move was due largely to the festival’s two-year pandemic-induced hiatus. She said the Solvang Danish Days Foundation decided that it was only fair to give the 2020 and 2021 maids a deserving chance to represent their town.

As such, Madrid and her consort will lead the weekend event — themed “Velkommen Igen” (“Welcome Again”) — as a way to honor the town and their own Danish roots.

The 85th annual Danish Days festival takes place Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16 to 18, in downtown Solvang, featuring authentic food, music, dancing, parades, live entertainment and family activities.

Looking back

“As a young child, I remember spending long nights at Mormor’s (grandmother) with the family hustling about, surrounded by tables full of trays of bread waiting to get buttered, and then constructed into beautiful, open-faced sandwiches,” Madrid recalled.

2022 Solvang Danish Days Maid, Aleena Madrid
2022 Solvang Danish Days Maid, Aleena Madrid. {Photo Credit: Mike Mesikep}

She noted that the sandwiches would be served to numerous volunteers who helped produce the annual festival.

Madrid would also help serve jam during the Danish Days Aebleskiver Breakfasts as a young festival volunteer, and as she got older her responsibilities grew to serving coffee, orange juice and aebleskiver.

“I remember having the special job of collecting lunch tickets at the front of the line, with the added perk of being able to peek out the back gate to catch the gigantic horses pulling the Carlsberg Beer Wagon,” she added. “It seemed larger than life.”

She recalled the times when she and her sister would join the Danish Days parades and lead the annual children’s parade by carrying the starting banner.

“Every Danish Days has been spectacular, and I love that I have been able to be involved in so many different ways,” she said.

Three generations

While Madrid will this year graduate from high school and then set off to attend a four-year university to study education, her long-term goal is to return home to follow the long-standing family tradition of serving as a teacher.

Tradition doesn’t end there, as Madrid represents the first third-generation maid to hold the title Danish Days royal title, following in the footsteps of her mother Ashlee Madrid, Danish maid in 1999, and grandmother Glenda Jaeger Madrid, 1971 Danish maid.

Even further back, Madrid’s great-great grandfather, Viggo Tarnow, first came to America in 1914 from Copenhagen to Minnesota where he met and married Cora.

In 1938, the Tarnows, who also had a daughter named Marie, moved to Solvang where Viggo taught at Solvang’s Atterdag Folk School.

2022 Danish Maid Aleena Madrid as a child during a previous annual festival in Solvang.

He later taught gymnastics at Atterdag College, which opened in 1914. It would become Solvang’s educational and cultural center until its demolition in 1970 when the presently known Atterdag Village of Solvang retirement community and senior care facility was built.

The Tarnow family would eventually participate in Solvang Danish Days as folk dancers and gymnasts and also help with food service and vendor booths.

And by happenstance, Marie Tarnow would meet and marry Johannes Jaeger, who had traveled from Tindbæck, Denmark, to Solvang to explore more of the world and to finish his apprenticeship as a skilled carpenter.

The Jaegers would have three children, including Madrid’s grandmother, Glenda Jaeger.

According to records, Johannes Jaeger built many homes and buildings in the Santa Ynez Valley that include the original Solvang Festival Theater, built in the 1970s; the large windmill on Alisal Road next to the Solvang Post Office; and the windmill on Mission Drive which currently stands adjacent to Solvang Brewing Co.

Madrid’s great-grandparents remained active members of the Solvang community, supporting local organizations, Atterdag College, Bethania Lutheran Church, the Elverhøj Museum, and Danish Sisterhood and Brotherhood.

For the past five generations, Madrid’s family has assisted with Solvang Danish Days — a tradition she is honored to continue with her grandmother, Glenda Jaeger Madrid, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Through the years, Madrid’s grandmother has produced hand-sewn dresses for members of the family that more recently includes Madrid’s Danish Days maid dress which is fashioned after traditional Danish farmland dress styles.

The dress Madrid will sport for the upcoming festival also features a plaid apron and an embroidery style from the Hedebo region of Denmark for the trim pattern around the neck and arms.

“Velkommen igen to Solvang Danish Days!” Madrid added. “I am so excited that the celebration has finally been able to return.”

Danish Days schedule

The preliminary 2022 Solvang Danish Days event weekend schedule and parade application announcement are available at

Leading up to the weekend, the Danish maids will sell “Win a Trip to Denmark” raffle tickets at the weekly Solvang Farmers Market and will make appearances at the Danish Brotherhood, the Danish Sisterhood, the Vikings of Solvang and at Valley Rotary Club meetings to discuss the upcoming events and represent their Danish lineage.

The Danish maids will also be available for media appearances. To further inquire, contact Brenda Anderson at brendaA [at] rplmanagement [dot] com.

Read the original article, here: