Oaks Park 'Nordic frolic' shares Scandinavian traditions
Those who enjoy, or are simply curious about, Nordic traditions flocked to the 91st annual Portland Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, again taking place at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park June 8.
Parking was scarce in The Oaks' capacious free lots, when families streamed in to enjoy a party to welcome "midsummer", in the way it is done in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.
"It's a celebration of summer; a wonderful outdoor event with flower crowns, a beer garden, live entertainment, kids' crafts, lots of good food, and makers presenting Nordic wares," Nordic Northwest Events & Programs Manager Sassa Anders Carver succinctly described for us the goings on.
"And, everyone looks forward to the community effort of raising, then celebrating around the very traditional Swedish 'Majstang' (Mid-Summer Pole) in the afternoon," Anders Carver told THE BEE.
Kristi Gustafson, the festival's Co-Chair and President of the League of Swedish Societies, told why this celebration has thrived for decades: "This event celebrates the traditions of people from the Nordic countries; not only Sweden, but also the cultures of the peoples of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, who have brought a lot to the history of the world, past and present.
"After a typically long, cold winter, Scandinavians take this time to enjoy getting out and being in nature during the longest days of the year, to celebrate with family and friends."
The day-long festival isn't just for Scandinavian people, Anders Carver pointed out. "You certainly don't have to be Nordic to be welcome here and enjoy it. And, it's a fun way to learn about Scandinavian people and their customs, and appreciate their cultural heritage," she said – pointing out that the festival is registered as an "Oregon Heritage Tradition".
Some of those who came helped to decorate the Midsummer pole; others made flower wreaths, indulged in Nordic summer delicacies, and played games on the lawn – all while celebrating the warmth of long summer days.
Anders Carver said she just couldn't name her favorite part of the festival, because she enjoys all of it so much.
Gustafson thought about our question and replied with a smile, "That's a tough one. It's somewhere among enjoying the food, the 'Sma grodorna' (the 'Little Frogs' dance), and the procession and the raising of the 'Majstang'."
Those interested in other activities and events offered by Nordic Northwest can learn more by going online – www.nordicnorthwest.org