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City asks HDPA, Viking Fest to cooperate

POULSBO — It was a familiar discussion Wednesday afternoon, but with a new and different ending as the Viking Fest board and Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association members were asked by the city’s Community Services Committee to work together to solve the Viking Fest location dilemma. Since the dialogue began over the summer, the city has provided a venue for it on several occasions, seeing a record number of meeting attendees.

The conversation — and at times debate — was first brought to the committee’s agenda in July in an effort by downtown merchants to rid Anderson Parkway of events, especially the Viking Fest carnival, that overtake needed parking spaces. Nearly 50 downtown business owners signed a petition to have the carnival removed.

The Viking Fest board responded to the HDPA’s requests saying that moving just the carnival, and not the entire event, would be a difficult task. Viking Fest Executive Vice President Kathi Foresee said they are now in negotiations with three different locations and are considering the feasibility and cost of relocating just the carnival or the entire event from downtown.

“Viking Fest is very aware of what is wanted and not wanted downtown,” she said. “At this point we’re trying to weigh all of our options, and do what’s best for the city, the heritage and Viking Fest.”

Foresee said the carnival brings in $10,000 in revenue, allowing the event to not just continue, but provide scholarships for students. She said the board hopes to have a final decision regarding the location made next week, but could not give specific information about the three areas. She did report two are in College Marketplace and one is nearer to the historic downtown core.

Councilwoman Connie Lord expressed hope the carnival can find another home, but the parade and more heritage-based events remain downtown.

“I’m a little surprised at the consideration of moving the whole thing,” she said. She added the desire that HDPA members create a working partnership with Viking Fest to make any transition a smooth and successful one. Councilman Ed Stern agreed, saying he’d like to see at least some Viking Fest activities remain downtown.

“The more Viking Fest and other groups can cooperate with each other, the less the city needs to be involved,” he said.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said she believes the Viking Fest board has been listening to the HDPA’s concerns as it approaches the decision. She added the city has recently purchased survey services, and is looking into the possibility of creating a community survey regarding the issue “to get more information from the community at large.”

The next Community Services Committee meeting is slated for Nov. 14.

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