Viking Fest in dire financial straits

POULSBO — Little Norway’s most popular event is sending out an SOS to the community after one of its major sponsors pulled out at the last minute.

The 39th annual Viking Fest slated for May 18-20 will be a shadow of what it has been in the past unless organizers can find enough sponsors to fill the financial void, Viking Fest secretary Kathi Foresee said Friday morning.

“We didn’t find out that Poulsbo RV was pulling out until March,” Foresee said. “We were counting on that.”

Poulsbo RV had been a long-time sponsor of the festival’s parade and just last year hosted a live remote broadcast by Seattle country radio station 94.1 KMPS, she said.

“We had no belief they would do that,” she said.

Because of the thousands of visitors, the festival draws during the three-day event, many people assume it is self-supporting, Foresee said.

“That’s simply not the case. We rely heavily on our sponsors to cover our operating costs,” she said.

The deadline for sponsors to be placed in this year’s Viking Fest brochure is Tuesday, but donations will be accepted until the festival begins, Foresee said.

“All we need is a commitment,” she said. “We can get the money later.”

As for what impact the organization’s current financial straits will have on the festival, Foresee said there will be some noticeable changes.

“We’ll still figure out how to pull it off,” Foresee said.

That news came as a surprise to Councilwoman Connie Lord, who listened to Foresee discuss the festival’s status at Wednesday’s community services committee.

“This is the premier festival of the year,” Lord said. “I’m quite surprised. Kathi seemed pretty upbeat Wednesday.”

Even though the festival appears to be in trouble, Lord said there is little city officials can do.

“We can encourage the community to step up and help,” she said.

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