Wrapping up the Festival

Cookies and pastries… little tykes fishing for little fish… roller derby… Vikings and Valkyries roaming the town…

…rosemaling classes… a Mummer’s play… an all-you-can-eat shrimp feed to support the basketball team… a muskeg walk… a herring toss… a pageant… folk costumes and amazing embroidery…

…a halibut filleting demonstration by some of the experts at Petersburg Fisheries…

…massive chunks of glacier ice set out for people to touch and see, and for young Viking hopefuls to practice their sword skills on… the Coast Guard helicopter showing why they are our heroes… and my favorite event: the parade. I love a nice old fashioned hometown kind of parade. (Thanksgiving morning you will find me glued to the TV watching the Macy’s Day Parade in NYC.) I think Petersburg does a great parade!

Antique fire truck carrying our Norwegian-American of the Year

Police and firefighters tossed candy to the crowd, as did some of these little Vikings in the small ship… and spectator children were quick to collect all the sweets.

The big Viking ship was full of fierce characters…

…led by the serpentine line of our 5th through 8th grade Norwegian traditional dancers.

A Tlingit man in his tribal regalia drummed…

…and we helped the US Forest Service’s Smokey the Bear celebrate his 75th birthday!

Smokey was pretty reserved, just posing for pictures, but the salmon had some great dance moves!

Our Sons of Norway lodge was well represented by members in their bunads, and I thought it was especially lovely that the whole parade looped up to pass by the Long Term Care wing of the hospital so the residents there could enjoy the show too.

Now we’re casting off the lines to start cruising, and we sure could use some quiet days at anchor to recover from the Festival!

More Little Norway Festival

The Little Norway Festival schedule was packed with activities and events, and we exhausted ourselves trying to take advantage of as much as possible. At the same time, we’re getting ready to leave town for the summer, saying goodbye to friends in town and trying to get together with as many as possible for one last bit of fun. Our friend Bobby, a commercial fisherman, gave us some halibut cheeks – a super treat. (Although I don’t eat seafood, I can appreciate how much other people will enjoy it.) Just watching him expertly harvest the cheeks with his super-sharp knife was a treat.

We went on a muskeg walk with one of our Forest Service botanists – no matter how many times we go on something like this, we always learn new things. I love to see the fern leaves still curled tightly into “fiddles”, and some species of fern fiddles can be sauteed or pickled.

Fern fiddles, still unfurling

Not many plants were blooming just yet, though the bog laurel was getting started – so pretty when the blossom is open as well as when it’s still closed in it’s compact geometric dome.

The harbor was full of herring and smelt, so fishermen big and small were on the docks with buckets of wriggling dinner or bait. Smelt are preferred for dinner, herring for bait.

My 5 year old friend Mae is quite the fishergal, and she was working hard to get enough smelt for her parents and grandparents for dinner. These two little guys were also trying their hand at fishing… Eric was so proud of his herring (looking like a perfect Petersburg tyke in his Norwegian sweater and Xtratuf boots)…

…and his little brother was equally proud of his smelt.

Meanwhile, our next door neighbor boat, the CHARLES T, was celebrating her 100th birthday. She’s a wooden commercial fishing boat, still actively fishing today. She got a lot of attention at the boat yard to make sure she was looking her very best for the party.

Getting back to Norwegian-ness, a friend and I decided to take a 90 minute Rosemaling class to learn a few tricks of this distinctive decorative folk painting. We started with a pre-painted blank that had some lines drawn on it already, and a set of step-by-step pictures of what we needed to do.

I have no delusions about my painting ability, but it sure was fun to learn a little and to let the creative juices flow a bit.

Next up on the agenda was the “Guns and Hoses” competition between the local law enforcement (police, NOAA and our State Trooper – aka “guns”) and the fire department, EMTs and search & rescue (aka “hoses”) to see which team could pull a firetruck farther and faster. Last year “guns” won, and this year the “hoses” restored their honor.

We missed the strongman/strongwoman competition, but we attended the Roller Derby bout between Petersburg’s own Ragnarok Rollers and the visiting Sitka Sound Slayers, cheering for both sides in a great evening of action.

And if that wasn’t enough, we saw the Mitkof Mummer’s play – Millie Monka and the Salmon Cannery (hilarious), and visited the Sons of Norway’s famous “Kaffe Hus” for a sampling of traditional open faced sandwiches and sweet treats – made with butter and love, as we say!

To remind us about how much we rely on the Coast Guard to keep us safe, they brought over one of their helicopters from Air Station Sitka to perform a rescue demonstration out in the Narrows. One person was lowered down to be the “victim”, and after he released an orange smoke signal the helo swung back around and dropped a rescue swimmer to recover him. The tide was ebbing pretty briskly that afternoon, and both the “victim” and rescuer were swept out towards the Sound.

If you’re in trouble, there is no better sight than that orange and white helo coming for you!

Stay tuned for one more post about Little Norway… it’s just too much fun for one or two postings!

Little Norway Festival

Norway celebrates Syttende Mai – Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17th … and in true Alaskan style, Petersburg celebrates it with a four day festival featuring Vikings, Valkyries and traditional Norwegian costumes (Bunad). It will take more than one post to show you just some of the fun we had at the Festival, but I’ll start with the beautiful folk costume fashion show.

Bunader vary widely in color and style throughout Norway and other parts of Scandinavia, such as this Sami costume from the far north.

But what’s really interesting is that these are not just costumes; in Norway they are worn for special occasions such as weddings and christenings. Colors and features show the region the wearer is from, and the detailed embroidery and jewelry make each piece unique. Many of the bunader in Petersburg’s show were made by our harbormaster Glo, or were purchased in Norway for her collection. Glo is not only the seamstress… she also hand-embroidered many of these gorgeous outfits, which can take 1-2 years to complete.

Children’s bunader are made to allow for growth, until a cherished heirloom is passed down to a younger child.

I had to chuckle at these two little boys… they really didn’t want to be models!

I love to look at all the details, such as the embroidered purses…

…and the embroidered bodices and solje jewelry.

A few men were brave enough to model their own (or one of Glo’s) bunader, and I most admired the hand-knit patterned socks.

Of course the Vikings and Valkyries had to get in on the action…

…taking a break from marauding and pillaging. You don’t tell Vikings they’re not welcome!

Becoming an Outdoors Woman

In the midst of getting ready for summer cruising, I had the opportunity to go with friends to a Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) weekend up in Juneau. BOW is an international program, and many US states and Canadian provinces offer programs – and you can attend one in any place you want. A friend has gone to one of these before, in the Alaska interior, and she recommended it very highly. BOW is a chance to get away and take some short classes on various outdoors topics ranging from wild foraging to deer hunting, fly fishing, boat trailering, chainsaw use, pack rafting, shooting, field dressing game, as well as pickling and smoking your meat or catch. We each got to choose four classes our of the 24 offered for the weekend retreat, which was held at a camp north of Juneau. We camped in small cabins with bunk beds, no electricity, and a small wood stove for heat, but there were two bath houses with flush toilets and plenty of hot water.

About 90 women gathered in a parking lot for the bus ride north, and we were dropped off at a boat launch ramp. A tractor towing a big trailer was there to take our gear to camp, but we had to hike the 2.5 miles in. Luckily it was low tide so we could cut some corners… and now you see why we always hike in our tall brown boots. (I apologize for the photos – I only had my phone for a camera.

After a little get-to-know-you session and lunch, we were all off to our various classes. I started with a gun safety class, which was part lecture and part practice with .22 rifles. We got to see examples of blown-out gun barrels from overloading, and we learned good, safe habits. And we had FUN plinking at targets. Some gals had never held a gun before, so it was gratifying to see them get a little comfortable and hit some targets.

Before dinner the Dutch Oven Techniques students treated us to their afternoon’s efforts – yum!

After dinner we heard a lecture about foraging – learning how many things in the forest and on the beach are edible, and how best to prepare them. It was a very interesting talk… and it makes it easier to grab a handy snack out on the trail. The first evening wrapped up with a bonfire on the beach and s’mores… classic!

For me, the next day started with a ride on the flatbed trailer (like a hayride, without the hay) to the range for the shotgun class.

We learned to shoot trap and to handle the different types of shotguns, and everyone managed to break some clays during the 3.5 hour session.

My afternoon class was pack rafting – I wanted to learn more about these highly portable, lightweight boats. We loaded up packs with paddles, life jackets and 4 lb. boats for a hike along the creek. We learned about reading rapids, snacked on edible plants along the way, and finally got to our put-in point.

The boats are fun – there’s a neat little nylon bag you can use to help inflate it, so the whole process goes fairly quickly.

More learning… more FUN! In the evening we had an hour to visit various skill sessions such as fire starting (a cotton ball dipped in Vaseline or coated with candle wax, or a bit of steel wool and a 9v battery works wonders!)…

…spin casting, knot tying, and scat id.

The front sample is from a moose – you definitely want to know if one of those grumpy guys is around!

The sun is setting around 9pm these days, so I stopped to get a photo before I fell into my sleeping bag. What a gorgeous setting!

The final morning session for me was a survival class. It wasn’t intended to teach us how to survive for a week; it was geared towards day hiking where you have to spend a night or two in the field unexpectedly. Among other things, we learned to identify good shelter spots and how to find materials to start a fire, even in the rain (we live in a rainforest, after all). We built kits to carry in a day pack for such emergencies, and we got the chance to put some of our skills into practice. We each started a fire with limited materials, and you can see that some people were pretty proud of their accomplishment!

All in all, everyone had a wonderful time, learned a lot, and gained some confidence with new hands-on skills and practice. I would go again in a heartbeat. Next time, I’m definitely taking the chainsaw class!