Little Norway Festival Wrap-up

It’s hard to imagine so much Norwegian-ness packed into one weekend, but this town is really up to the task.  Petersburg’s Norwegian exchange student and her family keep saying how much more Norwegian we are here compared to Norway.  Our town is steeped in traditions while Norway has become more westernized, and the Norwegians enjoy seeing their culture and customs celebrated so much here.

Last Saturday started with the Lil’ Fisk Derby for young anglers, and our dock was crowded with short people in life jackets hoping to win a prize despite the handicap of short attention spans.  They were adorable.20150516 5436 little fisherman rHerring and smelt were caught with bare hooks, and this fellow caught a nice little Dolly Varden trout.20150516 5456 young fisherman rMeanwhile people were lining up to get into the Kaffe Hus at the Sons of Norway hall, where we could sample all kinds of open faced sandwiches, cookies, pastries, and cakes.  The line was quite long, but we had some nice musical entertainment to distract us.  I was admiring the Norwegian sweater worn by the gal in front of us in line, and I found out that it was made by her mother – who was busy playing the accordion for us.20150516 5446 kaffe hus musician r It was hard to choose among the treats, all hand-made.  Butter features prominently in Norwegian cooking, as well as the spice cardamom.  Everything was as beautiful as it was delicious!20150516 5451 kaffe hus r20150516 5467 governor walker rWe headed back to the boat to recover for a while, then headed to the next event – the Pageant.  We had VIP guests in attendance – Alaska’s Governor and Lt. Governor and their spouses were in town to dedicate the new drive-down dock in the harbor.  The Governor was embarrassed to admit that it was his first time in Petersburg.  When he mentioned that he will be hosting the King of Norway next month up in Anchorage he said that he realized his mistake – Petersburg would have been a MUCH better choice.

The Pageant was lovely – we had entertainment from the young Norwegian dance troupe in three groups: 1st and 2nd graders, then 3rd and 4th graders, then the 5th-8th graders.  It’s so heartwarming to see so many young people in town participating in all these cultural activities – boys as well as girls.20150516 5470 pageant heidi and dancers rYou might notice the vikings and valkyries sitting in the bleachers – they were very well behaved and didn’t try to pillage anything while the youngsters danced.  A few of them even came down and participated in a dance or two.

No Pageant would be complete without joining together in song – first the “I Love Humpback Salmon” song, followed by the “Alaska’s Flag” state song.  As new Alaskans, it was pretty neat to sing the state song standing a few feet from the Governor, surrounded by our new friends from town.

I’ll share the lyrics of the salmon song with you – feel free to sing along, loud and proud.

“I love humpback salmon, Good ‘ol humpback salmon, Caught by the Norske fishermen.  I like shrimp and shellfish, They sure do make a swell dish, I think the halibut is grand!  I don’t like T-bone steak, Cut from a steer in Texas, But give me fish!  And I don’t give a damn, If I do pay taxes!  I like humpback salmon, Good ‘ol humpback salmon, Caught by the Norske fishermen!”20150516 5496 fishermens memorial rI sang the song, despite the fact that I can’t stand to eat seafood of any kind.  It makes pot-luck dinners and dinner parties a little more challenging to attend here, but it’s fine.

We enjoyed a concert from a jazz group brought in for the Festival, and wrapped up the weekend with a little open house for our local friends.  It’s time to go cruising now, though we’ve found Petersburg to be a very sticky place – hard to leave.

Thanks to all the vikings, valkyries, and the bunad-wearing models and dancers – it was a memorable Festival!20150515 5297 viking and bunader r


Little Norway Festival Parade

20150515 5305 temsco helicopter and flags rThere were so many characters and interesting sights that the Little Norway Festival Parade deserves its own post.  The weather was perfect for the afternoon’s event, kicked off by the Temsco helicopter flying over the Narrows with the American and Norwegian flags as the parade participants lined up.  A color guard from our local Coast Guard station led the way, with fire trucks, a police car, and members of the volunteer search & rescue crew following right behind.

Nordic Drive was lined with people, many who live here now or had at some point – much like a Coming Home Parade in Canadian towns.  There were tourists enjoying the sights as well, but our overall feeling is that the Festival is put on by the town, for the town.

The Sons of Norway lodge members still wearing their beautiful bunader paraded along…20150515 5345 parade sons of norway r…followed by the youngsters from the traditional dancing troupe.20150515 5323 parade young dancers rIn stark contrast to the traditional costumes, the Viking ship followed, full of Vikings and Valkyries… big and small.20150515 5340 viking ship on parade r20150515 5336 viking boat captain r20150515 5334 vikings big and small r

20150515 5398 parade littlest viking rDon’t let those dimples fool you… I’ll bet that little guy can pillage with the best of them!

The Native Alaskans were represented by members of the ANB and ANS, resplendent in their button blankets and carved headgear…20150515 5356 parade anb mom and baby rAnd we howled with laughter at the antics of the Alaska Airlines dancing plane – that little plane had some awesome moves!20150515 5382 parade dancing plane 1 rSmokey the Bear and a big sockeye salmon visited with the crowd, thanks to the US Forest Service (a big employer in town).20150515 5364 parade big salmon rImmediately following the parade the annual herring toss was in full swing, with fish flying far and high as the competition heated up.  Meanwhile Jim channeled his “inner viking”…20150515 5283 channeling your inner viking r…while other vikings ran around town, wreaking havoc and dragging people off to the viking jail.  20150515 5406 chief viking closeup rAnd remember – you’re never too old to celebrate your viking-ness.20150515 5289 old viking rThere’s still a little bit more of the Little Norway Festival to share, in the next post.

All Things Norwegian

Last weekend was the 57th Little Norway Festival in Petersburg – our first one.  The town was stuffed to the gills with visitors and past residents back in town for the festivities and the high school reunions – there wasn’t an empty hotel or guest room anywhere.  We heard great things about the Festival, but were not quite prepared for the extent of the Norwegian-ness!  It will take more than one Blog entry to show it all to you…

We began our Festival experience by attending “Shipwreck on Cannery Island”, an original play written and performed by the Mitkof Mummers Theater Company.  It involved Vikings and a cannery run by (who else?) Norwegians.  I didn’t take any photos – I was laughing too hard – but it was just outstanding… a great way to kick things off.

20150427 5825 real rosemaling rThe next morning Jim and I took a little 1-hour rosemaling class – rosemaling is a type of decorative painting, primarily from Norway.  There are examples of rosemaling all around town – on the harbormaster’s office, building trim, company signs, and this beautiful wooden plate that hangs in the Library just to name a few examples.  We didn’t expect to become competent rosemalers in an hour, but we thought it would be fun to give it a try.  20150515 5833 rosemaling class rWe all had a lot of fun, and we came away with a much greater appreciation for the skill and experience of real rosemalers.  Regardless, our little samples are displayed proudly on the refrigerator.

20150515 5192 bunad show glo rThe next major event was the Scandinavian Style Show and luncheon, and we were advised to line up to buy our tickets early – which I was happy to do since I wanted a good spot to take photographs.  The show was narrated by our talented harbormaster Glo, and the models showed off about 75 different bunad – traditional Norwegian folk costumes, as well as costumes from Sweden and the northernmost Sami people.  What was truly amazing was to learn how many of these stunning costumes had been made for people in town by Glo – expert seamstress, bunad historian, and gifted embroiderer.  20150515 5220 bunad woman r20150515 5193 bunad cynthia r20150515 5258 bunad man r20150515 5210 bunad little girl r20150515 5230 bunad boys r20150515 5236 bunad little girl looking rMany of the garments Glo made took 1-2 years to complete, and as I was photographing the different styles from various regions I realized how much beauty was in the detail. 20150515 5238 bunad purse and solje detail r20150515 5233 bunad back embroidery detail r20150515 5243 bunad petersburg embroidery detail rIt was wonderful to see so many people involved in the show – some ladies had made their bunad from kits purchased in Norway, working together to help one another.  It was interesting to hear about the ways that a child’s bunad is constructed to allow for growth and modification as the child grows, and all the children (and men!) were good sports about modeling.20150515 5255 bunad marilyn and baby rThese are Swedish bunader…20150515 5269 bunad sweden rAnd this is an example of the Sami costume:20150515 5274 bunad sami rThis little gal in a knitted dress was my favorite.20150515 5277 bunad toddler knitted dress rEven though it was a warm sunny day, many people were wearing their traditional Dale of Norway sweaters, and in the afterglow of the fashion show I finally got Jim to choose a Dale sweater for himself.  It’s “Petersburg formal wear” – appropriate for just about any occasion, and it looks great on him.20150515 5280 bunad fashion show group rThere’s lots more of the Festival to show, but that will have to wait for the next post.

The Vikings are Here!

It has been pretty busy around here, but stay tuned for a lot more blogging once we wrap up our “town life” and cast off to start cruising in a few days.  In the meantime we’ve been flightseeing around Petersburg, the Le Conte glacier, and the Stikine River valley, and now we’re in the midst of the Little Norway Festival in Petersburg.  Vikings and Valkyries are running amok around town, and I had to bribe these Valkyries to keep them from dragging Jim off to the Viking Jail!jim and valkyriesDespite the sunny, warm weather people are wearing their Dale of Norway sweaters, and bunad (traditional Norwegian costumes)… herring throwing skill was hotly contested, and everyone is enjoying dancing and eating yummy buttery Norwegian baked goods.  There’s lots to report, but not until it’s all over and we have a chance to catch our breath.  Stay tuned for much more from Little Norway…