The fest, the 'fisk and plenty of fun

Addressing a small crowd during the Viking Fest opening ceremonies Friday, Poulsbo Mayor Donna Jean Bruce may have summed up the weekend of revelry best when she pointed out, “If you don’t have fun — it’s your own fault.”

With three days of events, eye-popping entertainment, fantastic food, crazy carnival rides and authentic Scandinavian culture to choose from, the good times were definitely rolling at the 35th annual gathering. Traffic at the celebration was another story altogether, but jams didn’t keep some 40,000 people from crowding the streets of what typically is an aptly named “Little Norway.”

A grand opening to the 2002 Viking Fest

The North Kitsap High School Marching Band once again made sure that the three-day gathering got started on the right note as it played a tribute to Norwegian Constitution Day — Syttende Mai — through a beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Little Miss Country Katie Webster followed suit, belting out the patriotic melody the American National Anthem for the crowd.

“I’m so excited,” was about all Sako Persson could muster after being named as Viking Fest Mother of the Year. Persson, who was nominated by her eldest daughter, Hanako, was all smiles and had more bouquets Friday afternoon than some florists.

A sea of red, black and white then made its way from nearby Grieg Hall as the Sons of Norway Leikarringen Dancers took the stage for some traditional steps. The talented kids, who ranged from kindergarten to 12th grade, set the stage for the hot tunes of the Viking Fest featured artists, who were everything but mediocre, yet still In-Limbo.

Getting a late start, the annual fireworks show did not disappoint as its big booms crackled through Poulsbo’s surrounding valleys like distant thunder. The explosions, forming the enormous, multi-colored bumbershoots of light above Liberty Bay, set off two car alarms in the process but wowed the huge crowds that gathered along the Poulsbo waterfront.

The pitter-patter of

little and big feet

Saturday morning brought an overcast “runners’ sky” to Poulsbo just in time for the 25th Annual Viking Fest Road Race. The perfect weather found athletes of all ages along 6th Avenue, stretching their muscles and exercising their jaws as they chatted about everything under the obscured sun. Mr. (Mel) Gallup’s All-Stars from Gordon Elementary School were all revved up to go at the starting gun but by the end of the one-mile run were dripping sweat and orange squeezings all over their bright green team T-shirts.

The five-mile run featured a more extensive route but the same smiles and cheers of encouragement at the finish line. It also featured a few last-second races where short-clad speedsters would “turn it on” during the final stretch in an attempt to overcome a friend or two.

Overcoming the entire field in the five-mile was men’s #w#inner Todd Petrovich, who sped across the finish line at 27:44. Petrovich was followed by second placed Glen Morgan, 28:06 and Paul Kaufman at 29:08.

Julie Broo was the top woman racer in the five-mile cruising to a 31:06 finish time with second placed Cynthia Parker, 33:48 and Cindy Brokens 34:25 on heels.

James Shipley, the 2001 five-mile champ, turned in his long-distance shoes this year but still led the men’s field in the one-mile with a time of 4:53. Kai Bergheer’s time of 5:06 put him in second in the men’s category.

Ruby Roberts crossed the line at 6:01, earning her top honors in the women’s one-mile race with second-placed Marybeth Campbell finishing the route in 6:28.

According to unofficial counts from Poulsbo Parks and Recreation, about 500 people participated in the Viking Fest Road Race’s silver anniversary.

The kid’s runs also brought plenty of cheers from the crowd and tears to one little girl, whose mother explained that she was crying because “her good friend had just run away down the street.”

“She’ll be back,” she assured her sobbing daughter.

Batter up and pancakes down at the Armory

With over three decades of practice, it wasn’t surprising that the Poulsbo Noon Lions Pancake Breakfast brought hundreds of hungry Viking Fest folk to the Armory Saturday and Sunday.

More than 1,300 were served during the 12-hour event, which raised some $4,500 for the North Kitsap High School Scholarship Fund. Among the well fed was a group of not-so-surly Vikings, who gathered at the Jensen Way building for what might be the best way to spend $6 at Viking Fest.

Lions member Doug Mong wasn’t shy in critiquing the horn blowers as they readied for the parade.

“That sounds like a bull,” he said to one Viking, before telling another, “That sounds like a cow.”

Unabashed, the group yelled out, “Lutefisk, lutefisk. Lefse, lefse. We are the Vikings... Ya sure, you betcha”

The professional grill masters, egg breakers, orange juice and coffee pourers, were joined by the NK Vikings LEOs, who exercised leadership, gained experience and took advantage of the opportunity to learn from veteran Lions.

6th Avenue goes from pandemonium to ‘parade perfect’

As the parade time neared, many downtown turned to the western horizon where blue skies were making a push toward Poulsbo. The parade start on 6th Avenue and Fjord Drive was another story altogether.

Golden Dragon dancers twisted up, Kingston Cavaliers marching band on swings, the play structure, Vikings dancing to the hip tunes from the North Kitsap High School marching band. Clowns talking to sheikhs, talking to Leikarringen dancers, laughing with Miss Poulsbo, her Little Sisters, the Miss Viking Fest Court and joking with B.R.A.T.S.

The description “organized chaos” seemed to fit.

“I must be crazy to do this every year,” parade chairperson Kathy Forsee explained, flipping through her chart before telling a float where to park.

With so much energy to burn off, it was fortunate that Lions Park is nestled in at the intersection, offering kids final chances to run amok before marching, strutting, rolling, riding, flipping and dancing down Front Street.

To make sure participants didn’t tire, crowds of supporters lined Fjord, Front and Jensen Way to cheer on 35th Annual Viking Fest Parade as it progressed and went from pandemonium to perfection in a few short steps.

Annual carnival’s Round-Up brings lots of ‘up chucks’

Great talents, culture dancing, singing, music and food aside, many attend the yearly gathering for one thing and one thing only — the carnival.

Touted as “the world’s most exciting ride,” the spinning “Round-Up,” didn’t disappoint to make some a little queasy and others just plain sick to their stomachs.

The “gravity-defying” contraption, apparently held together with gum, rusty nails, old shoe string and duct tape, had folks tossing their cookies on regular basis.

“That’s the tenth one since 10 a.m.,” the operator barked in drill sergeant fashion. Not very good odds, considering it wasn’t even 9 p.m. As such, the Round-Up could have very easily been renamed the Up-Chuck although the title change might affect its ability to bring more adventurous carnival goers onto its shaky platform.

While some though the Zipper had more appeal, others simply avoided the “kiddie rides” and went straight for the real monster — the lutefisk eating contest (see related story).

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