Arts and Entertainment

The Armed Vikings Festival

Armed Forces Day supporters and Viking Fest revelers captured at last year
Armed Forces Day supporters and Viking Fest revelers captured at last year's parades
— image credit: Jesse Beals, Brad Camp/Staff Photos

Kitsap’s summer festival season is ramping up.

This weekend, the county’s corridors will be flush with fair-goers, both local and abroad, as two of the area’s largest and most esteemed festivals commence at the same time.

In the North End, Poulsbo’s 40-year-old celebration of its Norwegian heritage, the aptly titled Viking Fest, will again fill Little Norway to the brim with horned helmets, chain metal, lutefisk and carnie folk.

Throughout downtown Bremerton, raising the flag for the nation’s original and longest-running Armed Forces Day Festival, America’s servicemen and women, their families and friends will fill the streets, courted by an Army tank, a fighter jet and more marching bands than you would think could possibly fit into a single parade.

Both festivals are, by nature, loaded with special events, music and a whole lot of home cooking over the weekend. And despite their differences in subject matter and ancestry, both festivals actually have quite a bit in common.

There’s even an annual bragging contest simmering, centered around who’s got more marching bands, who’s got the best chef and who’s got the best parade.

This year, What’s Up wanted to look at what it might be like if the festivals cross-pollinated, forming a mega Armed Viking Festival.

It sounds dangerous at first, but it’s the type of thing that, if anywhere in the world, could probably only be pulled off in Kitsap.

First off, the parade route will have to be extended.

With more than 200 participants annually making up the Armed Forces Day Parade combined with the almost 100 entries slated for this year’s Viking Fest parade, it will need to be something massive.

Something like a cross-county route, beginning on the shores of Poulsbo and ending at the Bremerton boardwalk. The hundreds of thousands of expected fair-goers could line highways 3 and 303 following the route from city to city.

It may get treacherous around Silverdale for the few dozen high school and middle school marching bands as they lug their instruments up Ridgetop hill, trying to keep the tune of “Louie Louie.” But it’d be worth it, because it just might be the biggest parade ever.

Consider, the famed Macy’s Day Parade in New York City is only six-and-a-half miles long. Kitsap’s 20-some-mile Armed Viking Parade would dwarf that.

And just imagine the float combinations.

There’d be Shriners weaving their little cars through the formation of the Sons of Norway Leikarringan dancers, amped-up Vikings in horned helmets and Vikettes in bunads romping around, hyping up the crowd as the M1A1 Abrams tank stoically rolls by.

The Armed Forces Day fighter jet would be quite a sight — flying low overhead, rattling windows on Front Street in Poulsbo — while a burly-type on the ground sounds the Viking lur before taking cover in the long ship float.

New meets old, Norwegian meets American, Viking meets Marine.

Still an even more interesting combination will be found later at the picnic table as the Armed Forces Festival annually cooks up thousands of burgers and dogs for its Heroes Barbecue while Viking Fest chefs traditionally whisk up pounds and pounds of the slimy Scandinavian delicacy lutefisk.

On that note, perhaps lutefisk would make an excellent mystery ingredient for the Armed Forces’ annual Iron Chef competition. WU


Bremerton’s Armed Forces Festival is said to be the first and longest-running Armed Forces Day celebration in the nation. Two years before Armed Forces Day was created, Bremerton threw a parade to honor local veteran John “Bud” Hawk who returned from World War II with four Purple Hearts and a Medal of Honor.

Each year since, Bud Hawk has been a perennial grand marshal.

As the festival celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead, a four-star admiral, member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest ranking Navy official in the country, will serve as Armed Forces Day Parade Grand Marshal.

Friday, May 16

• Pepsi Armed Forces Festival Golf Tournament at the Cascade Course, Gold Mountain Golf Complex. Entry fee: $400 for a foursome, half price for uniformed military personel. Shotgun starts at 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Info: Reservations recommended, call (360) 479-3579 or go to

Saturday, May 17

• 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Bremerton Central Lions and Masonic Lodge Pancake Breakfasts: Lions on Fourth Street between Washington and Pacific, Masons at Fifth and Warren.

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Peninsula Community Health Services Smile Rescuers, dental hygiene activities for kids, teens and adults at Sixth and Pacific.

• 10 a.m. — 60th Annual Armed Forces Day Parade throughout the streets of downtown Bremerton. More than 150 participants including marching units, marching bands, veterans, an M1A1 Abrams tank and more. This year’s parade will be broadcast on Bremerton Kitsap Access Television.

• Noon to 4 p.m — American Financial Services’ Heroes Barbecue on Fourth Street between Washington and Pacific, “Honoring Our Pearl Harbor Survivors.” Military personnel and dependents, retirees and community are invited to enjoy a free barbecue lunch while honoring servicemen and women past and present.

• 1 p.m. — Advanced Acoustic Concepts Military Culinary Arts Competition at the Bremer Student Center at Olympic College. Military chefs and culinary specialists from throughout the Puget Sound region compete.

• 6 p.m. — Navy League Gala at the Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Ave. The Bremerton/Olympic Council of the Navy League hosts a dinner and “Elvis” show with a keynote speech presented by Admiral Gary Roughead. Admission: $45 for dinner and show, $18 for the show and speech. Info: (360) 373-6743.

All Day Events

• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Kitsap County Historical Society, 280 Fourth St., features hands-on activities for kids.

• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — USS Turner Joy, adjacent to the Louis Mentor Boardwalk, open for tours all day.


In addition to all the traditional Viking helmet-donning, lutefisk-eating, marching and parading, carnival-going, waterfront park fun that is Poulsbo’s annual celebration of Norwegian heritage — Viking Fest — there’s a new Iron Chef competition added to the roster Sunday.

Also check out: the carnival at the King Olav parking lot, artisan booths on Anderson Parkway, entertainment at Kvelstad Pavilion and Viking Village on the grass of waterfront park all weekend long.

Friday, May 16

• 4 p.m. — Opening ceremony at Kvelstad Pavilion: Color guard, Norwegian National Anthem, Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade and Miss Viking Fest. Food and craft booths open on Anderson Parkway, carnival opens at King Olav parking lot, Viking Village opens at Liberty Bay waterfront park.

• Entertainment at Kvelstad Pavilion

- 4:30 p.m. — K-fourth grade Sons of Norway Leikarringen dancers

- 5:15 p.m. — 5-12th grade Sons of Norway Leikarringen dancers

- 6 p.m. — Scoil Rince Slieveloughane (Irish dancers)

- 7:30 p.m. — Olympic College Jazz Band

Saturday, May 17

• 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. — 36th Annual Poulsbo Noon Lions Pancake Breakfast at the Poulsbo Armory, 19133 Jensen Way. Funds benefit Lions scholarship fund.

• 7:30 to 11 a.m. — 30th Annual Viking Fest Road Race, check-in at Lions Park, successive starts to follow — half-mile, mile and kids dash.

• 10 a.m. — Food and craft booths, carnival and Viking Village open for the day.

• 11 a.m. — Sons of Norway Scandinavian luncheon at the Sons Lodge, 18891 Front St.

• 2 p.m. — 39th Annual Viking Fest parade through downtown Poulsbo

• Entertainment at Kvelstad Pavilion

- 10 a.m. — Kitsap Kickers Line Dancers

- 10:30 a.m. — Country Cloggers

- 11 a.m. — Sons of Norway Folk Dancers

- Noon — Liberty Bay Danceworks

- 1:30 p.m. — Rhythm N Shows, Kitsap Peninsula Cloggers

- 4 p.m. — Jazz Dance by Melissa Dance Studio

- 4:30 p.m. — Boot Scrootin’ Grannies

- 5:15 p.m. — Music by local band Me and the Boys

- 7:30 p.m. — Music by local band Coldnote

Sunday, May 18

• 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. — 36th Annual Poulsbo Noon Lions Pancake Breakfast at the Poulsbo Armory, 19133 Jensen Way. Funds benefit Lions scholarship fund. 

• 10 a.m. — Food and craft booths, carnival and Viking Village open for the day.

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Sons of Norway videos, free admission at the Sons Lodge, 18891 Front St. Approximately 50 minutes each — “Kon Tiki Expedition,” “Sonja Henie, Queen of Ice,” “Viking Voyages.”

• 11 a.m. — Iron Chef Competition, winner announced at 2 p.m. at Kvelstad Pavilion.

• 2 p.m. — Annual Lutefisk Eating Contest: sign up beforehand at the information booth, $10 entry fee, limited to 12 contestants 18 years and older.

• Entertainment at Kvelstad Pavilion

- 10:30 a.m. — Ku-Umba, Breidablik marimba group

- 11:15 a.m. — Heels of Thunder tap/clogging group

- 12:30 p.m. — Samara Dancers

- 1 p.m. — NKHS band and jazz band

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