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The Scandinavian community again gathers at historic Oaks Park for their annual celebration

DAVID F. ASHTON - Born four years after the festival began, honored guest Elsie Nordby sat with her son Jeff Klein, the current "Scandinavian of the Year", and her daughter Linda Hovis.
Dark clouds overhead, which eventually turned into a torrential downpour, didn't hinder the participants of the 90th Annual Portland Scandinavian Midsummer Festival from having a joyous celebration at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park.

The rain could not have been a surprise to native Portlanders – the festival was on the same Saturday as the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade – when it often rains! – Saturday, June 9.

The celebration, presented by Nordic NorthWest, was filled with music, dancing, games, Nordic foods, and entertainment.

"We're excited – both because this is our 90th consecutive year for this Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, and also because our event has been named an "Oregon Heritage Tradition" by Oregon Parks & Recreation. It started in the same year as the Pendleton Round Up," smiled Nordic Northwest Events Coordinator Sassa Carver.

Before the rain set in, they'd already raised the Maypole and held some of their sporting games.

"The importance of this festival is that it's a central tradition we brought from the Nordic countries," Carver told THE BEE. "It's celebrated, with variations, in different countries; some have the mid-summer pole, others have a giant bonfire – but, sadly, the bonfire isn't practical here at Oaks Park.

"The festival draws people of Nordic heritage – and others who enjoy the festivities – from all over the Pacific Northwest," recounted Carver. "This is one place where everyone, Nordic heritage or not, can enjoy the traditions of our cultures; smell and taste the foods; and browse among the many vendors that are here."

Honored this year was long-time attendee Elsie Nordby. "I first attended in 1931 – in my mother's belly before I was born!" she said. Later, when she was 10 years old, Elsie was voted "Lucia Queen of 1941", and she has come every year since then. Currently, her son Jeff Klein, is "Scandinavian of the Year".

"For me, this is still is about family, friends, and the traditions brought here from Sweden," Elsie said. "I now enjoy seeing the younger generations participate in our heritage, as I did when I was young – and I enjoy knowing that it will continue on."

For information about all things Scandinavian see the Nordic Northwest website – www.nordicnorthwest.org

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