Scandinavian Festival returns Saturday at Civic Center
If you've ever danced the tretur fra hordaland to the music of 15-plus accordions with a tummy full of aebelskivers and a bowl of rommegrut on your mind, there's a good chance you were at the Scandinavian Festival.
Organizers quip that they may be guilty of tempting folks with lots of tasty treats, but at least they also provide an opportunity to burn off those calories.
“Oh, we love to eat and dance!” said Tim Hanson, chuckling. “Our Scandinavian Festival has lots of both.”
This year's celebration of all things Nordic is slated for Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Yuma Civic Center.
The event will feature live musical performances, dancing, Scandinavian dinners, homemade baked goods, plus lots of colorful arts and crafts. Genealogists will also be available to help folks see if there's a Viking in their family tree.
“We hope people come out and have a good time. Our festival is always an enjoyable time, with a lot of variety,” said Hanson, a member of Sola Lodge 6-168 with Sons of Norway.
The 11th annual Scandinavian Festival will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission will be $3.
To gauge the event popularity with local sweet-toothed dancers, organizers only need to point to the attendance numbers.
“The most we've had is 1,700 people,” Hanson said. “That gets to be quite a handful! The festival has gotten pretty large. It takes about 150 people to pull this thing off each year.”
A big draw each year are all the gooey goodies, including the ever-popular aebelskivers. The baked dessert can be served plain or smothered in raspberry jam. “It's very similar to a buttermilk pancake in texture,” Hanson said. But in addition to their flavor, aebelskivers are also well known for the unique tools used to make them. Cooks gently coax the aebelskivers into a particular shape using knitting needles.
People also look forward to sitting down to a serving of rommegrut, which is like a vanilla pudding. “It's rich to begin with, but then people pour butter and cream on it,” Hanson said. “Sometimes people put a dollop of raspberry jam on top.”
But the culinary star of the event will also be that Scandinavian staple known around the world – lefse. Organizers expect to serve just shy of 2,000 sheets of lefse, which can be described as pretty similar to a potato tortilla.
“We'll have eight griddles going,” Hanson said with pride.
In addition to the traditional baked goods, the festival will also feature a Nordic Cafe. Talking about this aspect of the event is enough to make even Hanson's mouth water. The cafe will feature several traditional dishes prepared by the civic center's head cook, Art Everett.
“His meatballs are to die for,” Hanson raved. “He's also going to have a terrific cucumber salad, pickled herring, a potato dish and some light kind of dessert.”
On the musical front, the festival will begin and end with performances by the Yuma Accordion Band. The number of performers can vary, but there's always more accordions than most have seen all on one stage.
“There were about 15 accordions playing last year,” Hanson said.
The Jerry Johnson Group will sing and dance in the Nordic Cafe and the String Ambassadors will perform various Scandinavian numbers, including “Swedish Rhapsody.”
Darin Fenger can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6860.