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Thor thunders into Viking Fest

POULSBO — The 37th annual Viking Fest got off to a thunderous start Friday afternoon and the festivities — and inclement weather — kept roaring along throughout the weekend ending with a boom as festival-goers left town on Sunday afternoon.

“Welcome to Viking Fest,” said Poulsbo Mayor Donna Jean Bruce as thunder echoed in the skies behind her on Friday afternoon. “We need to talk to the rain gods about this weather and tell them to make the rain go away.”

On Saturday, the rain gods heeded the mayor’s pleas as the sun greeted visitors who ventured to the Poulsbo Armory for the Lions pancake breakfast.

“The public’s been real supportive and we’ve had a good turnout so far,” said Poulsbo Noon Lions Club President David Risley, as he busily topped off ever emptying bottles of syrup.

While the Lions were busy serving up pancakes, sausages, eggs and coffee, Sons of Norway members were in the midst of putting the finishing touches on their authentic Scandinavian luncheon.

“We had an extremely good turnout and everything went fabulously,” said Sons of Norway Administrator Marianne Samuelsen. “It was one of our better years.”

The luncheon featured Norwegian specialties of rulepulse and lefse along with hot dogs and chips for those unsure about the cultural delights.

After a 30-minute delay, the sounds of Harleys pierced the jovial sounds of the carnival as last-minute arrivals hurried to find the perfect viewing spot for the parade.

“The highlight of the parade will be my street-sweeping brigade,” Bruce predicted on Friday.

As Bruce bragged about her street sweepers, Viking Fest Corporation Secretary Kathi Foresee was in the throes of ensuring all 85 entries were in the right order.

The highlight of the parade was the appearance by Bruce King, spokesman for Poulsbo RV, she said.

“Having Bruce King as grand marshal was awesome and KMPS said it was a great live remote,” she said.

Seattle country radio station, 94.1 KMPS, did a live remote from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Randy Scott from the Waking Crew also served as one of the parade announcers. The Viking Fest Corporation worked with the radio station throughout the week leading up to the festival to promote the weekend’s events.

As soon as the parade ended, thunder returned to the festival and the skies opened up with a steady downpour that sent many festival-goers either to their cars or into local restaurants.

Mother Nature gave festival-goers an encore performance of the previous day’s mix of sun, wind and rain resulting in the only event cancelation of the entire festival.

Kayak races, which were scheduled to begin on Sunday morning, were cancelled because of less than ideal conditions, said Viking Fest Treasurer Anthony Smallbeck.

“All of the contestants decided not to participate because of weather, which is understandable,” Smallbeck said.

However, life in Viking Village carried on in spite of Mother Nature’s attempts to dampen its liveliness.

“It’s been a pretty good festival and people have been coming in and asking lots of questions,” said Robert Stephenson, whose Viking name is Kanut.

While the Viking tended a fire, contestants for the lutefisk-eating contest geared up for an expected showdown between reigning champion Charles Jensen and perennial favorite Eric Perkins (see related story).

Despite Mother Nature’s curveball, Foresee agreed that Viking Fest was a hit.

“It was a great festival,” she said. “The rain didn’t cooperate much on Saturday night but it was still a great festival.”

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