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‘Velkommen' to Scandinavian festival
Nordic roots aren't required to have a good time at the annual Scandinavian Festival, where tasty food, foot tapping music, colorful costumes and ethnic garb and crafts will abound.
The festival, to be held Tuesday at the Yuma Civic Center, is sponsored by the Sons of Norway Sola Lodge in Yuma to promote the heritage and culture of Norway and its fellow Nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
"Everyone is invited to come out and experience our culture," said Tim Hanson, festival organizer. "We hope folks of all backgrounds will join us to learn a little bit more about Scandinavian culture and sample some traditional treats."
Admission will be $3 per person at the door. The event starts off at 9 a.m. with coffee, arts and crafts, lefse demonstration and accordion music.
The opening ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m. with parading accordion musicians, folks dressed in Nordic costumes and a lot of flag waving and rolling pins. The Yuma Youth Choir will sing the national anthem of each of the five Nordic countries, as well as the anthems for the United States and Canada.
Festivities continue until 3 p.m. with music, arts and crafts, food demonstrations and sales.
Entertainment will include two shows by the Yuma Accordion Band, with the crowd being led in simple dances.
"We expect to get the crowd crowing with the Nordic chicken dance and a couple of easy circle dances," Hanson said. "You don't have to be Scandinavian to love the chicken dance - or to appreciate foods like lefse and Danish waffles."
There will be lots of other Scandinavian foods as well, like rommegrot (sour cream porridge) and krumkake, futemann and rosette cookies.
A Scandinavian lunch at $6 a plate will be served by the civic center catering staff from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
"We tend to eat well," observed Hanson.
A number of vendors will have booths. Among them will be author Dr. Jeanne Hounshell, who told the story of her Danish grandparents' lives in the book "Becoming Bestemor"; rosemaling by local artists Joyce Stegmen and Ione Bard; Norwegian dragon grog bowls by ceramic artist Steve Hanson; photographs and trolls by Jean Berrier; weaving by various artists; and a boutique by J&M Scandinavian Imports from Phoenix.
Scandinavian Day had its beginnings in 2001 as a coffee get together put on Ione Bard. The event kept growing — and outgrowing venues. In recent years, the festival has attracted as many as 1,700 people, Hanson said.
Not only will the festival be a fun time, it also will be a fundraiser for the Yuma Youth Choir's upcoming European tour and to help rebuild the kindergarten playground at Valley Horizon Elementary School, the school adopted by the lodge.
Sons of Norway was organized as a fraternal benefit society by 18 Norwegian immigrants in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1895, to help protect members and their families from financial hardships experienced during times of sickness or death, Hanson said.
Over time, the organization's mission was expanded to include the preservation and promotion of Norwegian heritage and culture in American society. It was later expanded to include the other Nordic countries.
Sola Lodge of Yuma meets monthly at Faith Lutheran Church, 2215 S. 8th Ave. For more information about joining, call Phyllis Halseth at 342-7451.