Celebrate The Nordic Culture

The Scandinavian Folk festival is a celebration of the heritage of the Jamestown area and thousands of its citizens.

In the 1920s, Jamestown had the highest percentage of Swedish people of any city in the United States. Now, most of those who have Swedish immigrant ancestors are three to four generations removed from them. The Scandinavian Folk Festival celebrates the music, folk dancing, food and stories of these ancestors in a wide variety of ways.

This year’s festival will be held July 19-21 at the Gerry Rodeo Grounds. The festival is sponsored by the American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, which has the goal to preserve the Scandinavian heritage. The festival is supported by hundreds of volunteers, both financially as well as hands-on.

The festival provides the opportunity to participate in a number of ways. One can enter the Swedish meatball cooking contest, and win a $100 first prize. No pre-registration is necessary, but participants are required to bring their meatballs to the festival between 7-8 p.m. on Friday, July 19.

Workshops will be held where one can learn the art of Danish papercutting, Swedish painting, Swedish weaving, chip carving, making straw ornaments, dancing the schottis, waltz and polka. A special children’s workshop on operating puppets will occur on Saturday at 1 p.m., which will follow the Hans Christian Andersen puppet shows.

The festival will feature KUBB, a Viking lawn game tournament, which begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 20. Prizes will be awarded to the winners of various age brackets. One may also join the sing-a-long of Swedish songs in English at 6:45 p.m. on July 20, in which the participants may discover the meaning of the songs their ancestors used to sing. Another singing session of religious songs will occur on Sunday, July 21 at 10:15 a.m. Plus, there will be an opportunity to listen to and speak the Swedish language during Prater Svenska, which is a Swedish conversation corner that occurs for the fun of listening and is not for instruction. However, the Swedish language will be taught in one of the lecture workshops at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 20.

Guests may also participate in the traditional midsummer procession of all the festival’s musicians and folk dancers. When the midsummer pole is erected, the community is invited to follow the leader with traditional ring dances around the pole. At 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, the large bonfire will be lighted and the drum circle in the Sami tradition will begin.

Two Swedish films will be presented during the festival. “Under the Sun,” “Under Solen,” which was Academy Award nominated in 1999, will be shown at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 19. “As It Is in Heaven,” “Sa som i Himmelen,” which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2004, will be shown on at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 20. Both films are in Swedish, with English subtitles, and will be shown in the air-conditioned lecture and exhibit hall.

In addition to the lectures, there are a number of opportunities for attendees to observe the Scandinavian culture. In the culture tent, one can observe Norwegian hardanger embroidery, wood carving, Swedish weaving, knitting and spinning. Located outside the tent is the Swedish blacksmith, and next to the culture tent is a Viking Village, which will allow festival-goers to visit with Vikings. The village area includes a Viking Fjord horse, goats and located nearby is a Sami tent.

Located in the lecture and exhibit hall there will be a replica of a Swedish castle from the 1600s, a display about Raoul Wallenberg and a genealogy research center hosted by the Fenton History Center, which will provide attendees with the opportunity to look up their ancestors. A display about Swedish folk costumes and Bunkers for Bagdad is also located in the hall.

A major part of the festival is the food. Swedish foods will be served on Friday, July 19, from 4-7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 20, from noon-7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, July 21, from noon-3 p.m. Items such as Swedish meatballs, korv, kaldolmar, rice pudding, fruit soupa, rotmos, yellow pea soup, dilled potatoes, bruna boner and cucumber salad will be available. A kaffe stuga will serve Dalahest coffee, along with Swedish cookies, lingonberry sherbet and strawberry sundaes.

The American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation will serve Norm’s korv burgers all weekend, Jones 212 Bakery will have their Swedish-baked items and St. Timothy Lutheran Church will serve beef on weck. Then during the morning of Sunday, July 21, the Thule Lodge Folk Dance Team will serve Swedish pancakes. Lingonberry drink from Sweden will also be available all weekend. Plus, the Beer and Wine booth will have Danish and local beers and wines available.

Vendors from all over eastern United States will be present. In addition, the festival has its own gift shop, Loppis, which is a Swedish flea market of new and used items and the Made in Jamestown booth of locally handcrafted items.

Special crafts and activities for children and families will also occur. They include the traditional Swedish coin scramble, storytelling and workshops.

Major sponsors of the festival include the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Regrant Program supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as administered by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council and is also funded by the Chautauqua County Occupancy Tax program.

For more information and a full schedule listing visit www.scandinavianjamestown.org or call 665-0883.