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Velkommen to the 40th Viking Fest

t 39th annual downtown parade at 2 p.m. today, Iron Chef and

lutefisk eating

competitions Sunday.

POULSBO — Men and women in Viking garb have staked claim once again to the shores of Liberty Bay. And this year, they’re turning out a celebration expected to be bigger than ever, with a host of new traditions, participants and visitors making their way to downtown Poulsbo to ring in Norway’s Constitution Day “Syttende Mai.”

“We are anticipating a record turnout for the 40th Annual Viking Fest,” board president Ron Krell said in an e-mail this week. “We have the largest parade we have ever had, and the largest number of booths.”

He said this year, even the international Sons of Norway organization — headquartered in Minneapolis — is sending a representative to attend the celebration and observe how the corporation has turned it into a community event.

The 36th annual Poulsbo Noon Lions Pancake Breakfast will take place today and Sunday tasty-style at 7 a.m. at the Poulsbo Armory on Jensen Way. Miss Viking Fest 2008 Queen Rachel Daniels and her court will be flipping the flapjacks this morning before selling See’s Candies, T-shirts and sweatshirts, signing autographs and taking a spin on carnival rides. The three dignitaries will also make an appearance at Sunday’s lutefisk eating competition, and have promised to give the Nordic favorite a try.

Daniels and princesses Amber Hoak and Haley Fidler said they’re each excited for the community festival, and especially the chance to attend as Viking Fest royalty. Daniels is no stranger to the summertime favorite.

“I’ve gone every year, all years,” she said of the event. This will be the first major appearance for the three, who were crowned last month. They said what sets their court apart from others is the connection they have, facing the same tough school schedules. Flipping through an SAT study book Tuesday, Daniels said despite the difficulty of the AP classes and graduation requirements they’re working toward, doing it together is shaping up to be a good thing. And by the looks of their fun-loving repartee, she’s right. Though Hoak said she’s never actually attended the carnival, Fidler was quick to remind her this year she won’t be missing a bit of it.

“We’re going on every ride and you don’t have a choice,” she told her, laughing.

Also getting a special crack at the carnival, Martha & Mary preschoolers and residents were allowed an early trip to the fun Friday. Paradise Amusements opened the gates to give them an exclusive preview before the masses arrived as thanks to Martha & Mary for their willingness to give the carnival’s relocation a try.

In previous years, the carnival has been located in Anderson Parkway, but was moved this year to the King Olaf parking lot to cooperate with downtown business owners.

Also on the schedule for the weekend, the 30th annual Viking Fest road race beginning at 7:30 a.m. Booths and rides on Anderson Parkway and King Olaf swing into gear at 10 a.m., and the Let’s Pretend Circus kicks off its first performance at 10:45 a.m. Sunday’s Iron Chef competition begins at 12:30 p.m., just before the lutefisk eating competition at 2:15. For a full schedule of the weekend’s activities, visit www.vikingfest.org.

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