Before heading out for summer cruising, we stayed in town long enough to enjoy the annual Little Norway Festival. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Petersburg’s celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day (May 17 – Syttende Mai) where we party like vikings for four days. (No self-respecting viking would party for just one day.)Vikings and valkyries come in all shapes and sizes……and they can use different kinds of transportation to get around. Note the clumps of moss growing on their bus. But ultimately, vikings prefer ships… big ones, little ones, and even tiny ones.People come from far and wide to enjoy the festival, including Alaska’s governor and lieutenant governor (riding on the truck pulling the big viking ship), as well as Norway’s ambassador to the US.The Norwegian ambassador has been to Petersburg a number of times now… he says that in Norway they only celebrate Syttende Mai for one day, so he likes our style better. He’s also been here to bestow a special medal from the King of Norway to our harbormaster Glo.
Norwegian culture is also featured throughout the festival, with our young Leikerring Dancers…….and members of our Sons of Norway lodge who wore their traditional folk costumes (“bunads”) around town. The lodge also hosted a “fashion show” of over 70 different bunads for men, women and children from all over Norway, unique to each region.Other cultures celebrate the Little Norway Festival too, with the unveiling of a story pole at the Library carved by a famous Tlingit carver and drumming by the local Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood in the parade.We tried our hand at rosemaling – traditional Norwegian tole painting, decorating little wooden doves.We had a good time painting and learning, interrupting our artistic efforts just in time to watch the volunteer fire department challenge the police department in a contest to see who could pull a fire engine faster – “guns vs. hoses”. The “guns” (police) team won.The children’s fishing contest filled the north harbor docks with little tykes who learned to fish at an early age – these kids are serious! The herring toss and viking games were fun to watch, and of course there were plenty of Norwegian treats to eat (“made with butter and love”).
But we’ve been tied to the dock far too long, and it’s time to “fly”…