Arts and Entertainment

It's time for … Viking Fest! | Kitsap Week

This year’s Viking Fest Parade in downtown Poulsbo will feature 85 entries over a two-hour period. The parade is a highlight of the three-day celebration of Poulsbo’s cultural ties to Norway.                       - Richard Walker / 2011
This year’s Viking Fest Parade in downtown Poulsbo will feature 85 entries over a two-hour period. The parade is a highlight of the three-day celebration of Poulsbo’s cultural ties to Norway.
— image credit: Richard Walker / 2011

When the first Norwegian immigrants arrived here in the mid-1800s, drawn by climate and resources similar to their home, Norwegian independence was still a dream.

Norway’s parliament had adopted a constitution on May 17, 1814 — a constitution modeled in large part on the constitution of the United States. But at that time, Norway was locked in a union with Sweden — after an almost 300-year union with Denmark.

“May 17 became a lasting, unifying national symbol in the long struggle for its independence that finally occurred in 1905,” Viking Fest president Ron Krell said.

“Norway was the third nation in the world to adopt a constitution and is today the only country in the world, aside from the USA, to still use its original constitution.”

Today, May 17 is a national holiday in Norway. Poulsbo began its celebration of May 17 — Syttende mai, in Norwegian — in 1969. This year’s Viking Fest, the 44th annual, is May 18-20. Admission is free. Carnival ride tickets can be purchased at the carnival.

This year’s festival features an expanded list of activities and events. Among them: Viking Paddle, a five‑mile stand-up paddleboard race; Kupcake Krigen (Norwegian for “Cupcake War”), a competition between bakeries for the tastiest cupcake and most artistic display using cupcakes; and street art.

May 18
At noon, 55 food and craft booths will open on Anderson Parkway, the carnival will open at the King Olav parking lot, and Viking Village will open at Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park.

At Viking Village, reenactors will be dressed and equipped as Vikings were a thousand years ago. They will demonstrate Viking clothing, crafts, equipment and games.

At 4 p.m., Kim Nesselquist, Norway’s honorary consul in Seattle, will help open the festival. The opening ceremony at Kvelstad Pavilion will include the Norwegian and American national anthems; introduction of Miss Viking Fest Maelena Mattson, Little Miss Viking Fest Tatyana Morgan-Reyes, Miss Washington Brittney Henry, Miss West Sound Hannah Price, and Miss Poulsbo Michaela Meeker; and Norwegian songs sung by the Sons of Norway Men’s Chorus. (The story in the May 11 Kitsap Week refers to Miss Washington as Christina Clarke. Clarke is Miss Washington USA).

Cultural dancers, bands and music groups will entertain at Kvelstad Pavilion all three days of the festival. The fun spills onto Viking Avenue, with karaoke contests May 18 and 19 at Envy Bar and Grill.

May 19
The 40th annual Poulsbo Noon Lions Club Pancake Breakfast is May 19 and 20, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Kitsap High School.  The 35th annual Viking Fest Road Race — 5-mile, 1-mile and Kids’ Dash — take place at 7:30 a.m.

The carnival, craft and food booths, and Viking Village open at 10 a.m.

At 11 a.m., the Sons of Norway Lodge hosts a Scandivanian luncheon with open-faced sandwiches, pea soup, baked goods, lefse and krumkake.

At 2 p.m., Miss Washington 2011 Brittney Henry will be grand marshal of the 43rd annual Viking Fest Parade, a two-hour event featuring 85 entries.

The first Viking Paddle paddleboard race begins at 5 p.m. in Liberty Bay.

May 20
The carnival, Viking Village and live entertainment continue.

The Kupcake Krigen begins at 11 a.m. at Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park.

Beginning at noon, the Sons of Norway Lodge will show four videos about Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the warrior Birkebeiners, Foss Maritime founder Thea Foss, and the Vikings.

The annual Lutefisk Eating Contest is at 2:30 p.m. (signup at the information booth before noon); the Oyster Eating Contest begins at 3:15 p.m. (sign up at The Loft restaurant).

Parking and shuttles
Attendance can range from 25,000 to 40,000, with Saturday having the heaviest attendance because of the afternoon parade.

Here’s a tip: On May 19, park at a Poulsbo public school and take a shuttle bus to the downtown Marine Science Center parking lot from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (no service from 2-4:30 p.m. because of the parade). Poulsbo Elementary School is located at 18531 Noll Road; Poulsbo Middle School, 2003 NE Hostmark St.; and North Kitsap High School, 1780 NE Hostmark St.

Shuttle buses will operate between Guesthouse Inn & Suites, the Poulsbo Village parking lot and City Hall on May 19 from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and May 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a $2 roundtrip charge per person, ages 5 and up.

For detailed schedules and other information, visit At the festival, look for the Viking Fest information booth, staffed by knowledgeable volunteers.

— Poulsbo’s logo has the words, “Viking City.” But the city is most commonly called “Little Norway.”
— Poulsbo is within the historical territory of the Suquamish Tribe.  Suquamish called what is now Poulsbo “Tcutcu Lats,” which translates as “maple grove.”Today, the governments of Suquamish and “Little Norway” work together on issues of mutual interest.
— The first Norwegian to settle here was Ole Stubb in 1875. Other Norwegians followed beginning in 1883.
— Norway’s King Olav V visited Poulsbo on Oct. 22, 1975.
— King Harald V and Queen Sonja visited Poulsbo Oct. 26, 1995.


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