Fest packs in the crowds

POULSBO — Maybe it was the smoke from the Viking Village. Maybe it was the lye from the lutefisk eating contest. Maybe it was the smell of a chainsaw carving into a piece of fresh wood.

Whatever it was, there was something special in the air last weekend.

The 36th annual Viking Fest celebration took place May 14-16 in downtown Poulsbo. Despite cooler than expected temperatures and a little rain, organizers said they felt attendance was up this year.

Viking Fest Corporation Secretary Kathi Foresee said it’s impossible to determine exactly how many people attended over the weekend, but with guesstimates from the carnival, Poulsbo Police and Poulsbo Fire Department, she said she figured the crowds easily reached the 40,000 mark.

“I think we’re growing,” she commented. “This was a big year.”

Foresee added that the entire Viking Fest Corporation board was pleased with how this year’s festival went. She especially thanked the volunteers and service organization members who pitched in with the set-up, take-down and everything in-between.

“We’re all volunteers and we do this for scholarships so it’s good to hear everyone had such a great time,” she said. “We all feel really good. People say, ‘Why did you do it?’ We do it because it’s something we feel strongly about and love.”

While Anderson Parkway was hopping with the carnival and Kvelstad Pavilion was alive with entertainment from Norwegian folk dances to hip-hop remixes, Front Street was also busy with visitors. At Hot Shots Java, employees reported lines out the door all day long on Saturday while down the street, the Conrad’s chainsaw carving demonstration was also a main attraction.

“We’ve had people in and out of here all day,” commented Jerry Conrad, whose wife Lisa owns the store.

Viking Fest guest Matthew Mason, also known as Mathias Geirsson, took great pride in being yet another alternative to the rides and games of the carnival. In the Viking Village, set up by by members Society for Creative Anachronisms at Viking Fest the last 13 years, Mason was among those showing festival-goers armor, weapons, textiles and other handiwork modeled after the Norse culture. He said Viking Fest is an event his group looks forward to every year.

“It’s really fun,” Mason commented. “I was here last year and I’m really glad to be back.”

In a more modern section of the festival, another special guest to last weekend’s events was Flo the Traffic Diva from Seattle radio station 94.1 KMPS. She broadcast live from the event Saturday, including the annual parade, for which she served as one of the official announcers. The visit marked Flo’s first trip to Little Norway and first time experiencing Viking Fest.

“It was just wonderful,” she commented. “I had such a great time. Everyone was so nice and so excited that KMPS was there.”

Prior to the live broadcast Saturday, KMPS DJ Ichabod Caine sampled the Norwegian speciality lutefisk with the Miss Viking Fest Court members. Flo made it clear before she even set foot in Poulsbo that she definitely wouldn’t be trying lutefisk but added that Saturday ended up being such a busy day she didn’t get to try any of the tasty goodies Little Norway had to offer.

“It would be fun to go over there when I’m not working,” she commented. “But I love this time of year with all the festivals and I definitely hope we can come over there again next year.”

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