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Scandinavian Festival moves from Hjemkomst Center to Sons of Norway, but vows to return

This month's smaller version of the annual event doesn't include Midwest Viking Fest.

Modern Vikings perform mock combat during the 2016 Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festival 2016. Forum file photo
Traditional Scandinavian garb will be seen at this weekend's Scandinavian Festival at the Sons of Norway.
Forum file photo
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FARGO — The annual Scandinavian Festival is a time to celebrate cultural traditions and tastes, but this year visitors will notice some big differences.

After two years of being unable to hold the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nordic Culture Club is again hosting the event this Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25. The most noticeable change will be its location. After decades of celebrating at Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Center, programming moved across the river to Fargo’s Sons of Norway , due to a scheduling conflict.

The space is smaller, but so is the schedule of events. What was a two-day happening kicks off with a concert Friday night at the Sons of Norway followed by only one full day of activities.

“It’s not going to be quite as large. We’re looking at it as sort of a mini festival,” says Marit Hordvik, president of the Nordic Culture Club.

The fest can get by with a smaller space in part because it is no longer partnering with Midwest Viking Fest, which for the last few years was held at the same time, on the grounds of the Hjemkomst Center.

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Modern Vikings perform mock combat during the 2016 Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festival 2016. Forum file photo
Modern Vikings perform mock combat during the 2016 Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festival.
Forum file photo

The Midwest Viking Fest — which features reenactors showing what life was like for the ancient Norse, from fighting to crafting and cooking — has moved to Green Bay, Wis., and will be held in late September.

The programming changes will show up in admission pricing.

“We’re able to keep costs down a bit,” Hordvik says, noting admission is $5 for ages 13 and older, opposed to $10 in 2019.

This weekend’s event still features plenty of Scandinavian folk music both days as well as craft and goods vendors, genealogical talks in the library and presentations by Minnesota chef Soile Anderson and food writer Eleanor Ostman, authors of “Celebrations to Remember,” who will talk about Scandinavian cooking.

Soile Anderson Eleanor Ostman.jpg
Soile Anderson and Eleanor Ostman and their book "Celebrations to Remember."
Contributed / Special to The Forum

Food is a “primary attraction” of those visiting the festival, Hordvik says.

Dishes will be purchased a la carte and this year will feature a smorgasbord of Scandinavian dishes, like Danish aebleskiver, Finnish breads, rhubarb soup and cardamom cookies, Norwegian rommegrøt and potato klub, Swedish breads and sweets and Icelandic sandwiches and chocolate sticky cake.

There will also be a free herring tasting with samples of four different types of preparation, from pickled to a cream sauce to Cajun.

“There will be lots of good food,” Hordvik says.

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The move to the Sons mean visitors can also try some Scandinavian drinks, like a flight of aquavit, a Scandinavian distilled spirit, as well as aquavit cocktails and a new Fargo Brewing Co. specialty beer, Three-Headed Troll, a Norwegian ale.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to check out the Sons of Norway and the Troll Lounge, the library and restaurant,” says John Jorgensen, current president of the Fargo Sons.

“In a lot of ways the Kringen Club is like a museum.”

Another added benefit is visitors can walk a block and visit the statue of Rollo, the Viking conqueror.

Moving the event to the Sons of Norway is bittersweet for Jorgensen, as he’ll miss the outdoor spaces and programming the Hjemkomst offered.

The Sons is a member of the Nordic Culture Club, which organizes the event, and is donating use of the facility.

“It’s an opportunity to give back,” Jorgensen says.

He adds that the Sons has also donated around $5,000 to the Hjemkomst Center for the redesign of the Hjemkomst Ship Gallery, which reopens on Saturday with original crew members of the Viking replica boat.

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“The Hjemkomst is a beautiful facility,” he says.

Others who miss the Scandinavian Festival being held at the Hjemkomst can look forward to its return next summer. While all parties are working to bring it back to the site, it still may not be as big as it was in 2019.

Maureen Kelly Jonason, executive director of the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, which programs events for the Hjemkomst, says that when Moorhead officials offered up Heritage Hall as the new space for the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre in 2021, the HCSCC lost its largest exhibition space . In return, the organization was given exclusive programming rights to the third and fourth floor galleries, the atrium and hallway display cases, meaning all of these spaces are no longer available for things like the Scandinavian Festival.

She adds that if the Scandinavian Festival does return next year, it will gain access to the community stage the FMCT has set up at the entrance of Heritage Hall.

Hordvik says the festival will bring back some kind of Viking presence, but Tim Jorgensen, who works with Viking Connection, an outreach program run by the HCSCC, says the relocation of Midwest Viking Fest to Green Bay is permanent and that no one has reached out to him about organizing a Viking event for the Scandinavian Festival in 2023.

If you go

What: Scandinavian Festival
When: 7-9 p.m. Friday, June 24, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 25
Where: Sons of Norway, 722 Second Ave. N., Fargo
Info: Tickets are $5 for ages 13 and older

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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