Scandinavian Fest returns to Oaks Park

Here’s an event that provides a day of family fun for all …

Members of the Süsse Füsse International Folk Dance Troupe perform a traditional dance at the 2016 Scandinavian Midsummer Festival.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Nordophiles flocked to historic Oaks Amusement Park by the hundreds on Saturday, June 11, for the 2016 Scandinavian Midsummer Festival.

Whether of Scandinavian heritage or not, folks from all over the greater Portland area – and as far away as Eugene and Washington State – arrived to celebrate the arrival of the Summer Solstice.

Helping to decorate the Maypole are Swedish volunteers Jaedyn Lehman and Olyvia Granath.

“It is quite a tradition of celebration; 88 continuous years!” exclaimed Nordic Northwest (formerly Scandinavian Heritage Foundation) Executive Director Gregory B. Smith, while watching the activities from under the tall oak trees.

“People come because it’s always a fun, family-friendly day filled with games, dancing, food, Nordic vendors and crafts and, of course, the raising of the Maypole,” Smith told East Portland News.

Their Nordic Village hosts vendors selling goods and foods from all five Scandinavian countries.

“All though this is a pan-Nordic event, representing the people and cultures from the five Nordic countries, we also have some Estonian dancing, and we hear a good deal of German being spoken here,” Smith grinned.

On two stages, entertainers performed culturally-relevant songs and dances. The smell of sausages and Swedish pancakes filled the air.

Cooking Swedish pancakes for Harmoni Lodge #472 is Scotsman Mike McTaggert.

“The best part of this for me, is the food,” Smith confessed. “Being here is like taking a restaurant tour of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway right here at historic Oaks Amusement Park.”

Before they raised the Maypole, a squall blew into the area that afternoon, bringing showers to the celebration – and sending many on their way home. But, those who stayed had a good time, even in the Oregon rain.

This traditional tug-o-war keeps active kids occupied.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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