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The Nordic Festival for the Northwest takes place at Oaks Park, and it was back this year! Photos and video!

DAVID F. ASHTON - The Parade of Scandinavian Nations here was on its way into the center ring, at the 2022 Oregon Midsummer Festival held again at Oaks Park. One of the larger cultural festivals in Oregon returned to historic, nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park on June 11: The Oregon Midsummer Festival.

In the Nordic nations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, it's a tradition to "warm up" after a long cold winter by celebrating Midsummer with friends, food, and drinks.

Even when the festival took place in an "atmospheric river" flowing over our area that weekend, the rain showers didn't stop people — including many without Scandinavian roots — to come and celebrate the day with centuries-old traditions.

"This has been an annual festival, except for the past two years when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said John Nelson, Board President of Nordic Northwest, the organization which produces the annual event.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Wearing floral crowns, and dressed in traditional clothing, guests Raphael and Giovanna Paglia enjoy a sausage luncheon at the Nordic Festival in Oaks Park. "Because of the weather, we weren't sure how many people would turn out, or how many vendors would actually attend — but, this has turned out to be very successful. It more than met our expectations for this year," Nelson told THE BEE.

"Our organization represents, and works on behalf of, smaller organizations that represent the five Nordic nations," explained Nelson. "We are the third largest ethnic group in the Pacific Northwest, and in the state of Oregon."

"Hundreds of thousands of folks in this region have Scandinavian ancestry, so it's important that we share our foods, language, and genealogy — all of which carry on these traditions," asserted Nelson. "Additionally, at this festival, we can share our culture with residents of the greater Portland area, as well as people in our region."

Some 20 craft vendors composed a Nordic marketplace offering vintage finds, locally-made artisan crafts, and Nordic gear.

At one time or another during their festival, it appeared as if everyone made their way to the make-it-yourself-flower-crown area to create their own floral head wreath — traditionally done to ensure good health throughout the year, in traditional Midsummer celebrations for centuries in Scandinavia.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Volunteers stepped carefully on the wet grass and in the muds as they brought in the flower-bedecked Maypole, to be raised at the Nordic Festival. The heavy rains from the night before turned the main open area into a muddy mess, but that didn't slow the hearty lawn games, such as tug-of-war. Participants smiled and wore their mud-splattered clothing as a badge of honor after the games had concluded.

And everyone in attendance looked forward to the "Raising of the Majstång", referring to the floral-decorated cross — interpreted by the announcer in English as the "Maypole". It was carried in as part of a colorful "Parade of Scandinavian Nations" — with the participants bravely slipping and sliding on the mud as they marched in.

After volunteers successfully hoisted it into place, participants gathered in a circle for traditional line dances, done to live authentic music. And, on two stages throughout the festival, dancers and musicians gave performances.

If you're interested in Nordic culture, see all of the events offered through Nordic Northwest at their "Nordia House", online — www.nordicnorthwest.org

And, to see and hear what was going on this year at the Nordic Midsummer Festival, here's a brief BEE video — youtu.be/3GhH6gkPZXU


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