SE Portland ‘world entertainer’ delights all at 2012 Scandinavian Fest

See raising of the ‘midsummer’s pole’, food and fun provided by Henrik Bothe at this year’s festival celebrating the start of summer …

Terri Baker, who wears Danish traditional clothing from the town of Saling, walks with Daniel Theophanef, who is in traditional Norwegian wear.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For several of its 84 years, the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival was held at the German-American Society facility on SE Division St. just west of the Portland Community College Campus – until the property was sold by the college.

> See our 2009 story about the 81st annual edition at that location: CLICK HERE.

Again this year, the Scandinavian Midsummer Fest celebration enjoyed its new home at historic Oaks Amusement Park. Their 2012 edition took place on Saturday, June 16.

Ross Fogelquist, chairman of the Scandinavian Midsummer Fest at Oaks Park, stops for a photo with Alana Mapes. Both are dressed in traditional Swedish garb.

“This is an event that unites all of the people from the Scandinavian countries to get together and celebrate ‘Midsummer’,” said the event’s chairman, Ross Fogelquist.

“Next to Christmas, this is the second most important holiday in Sweden, and it’s pretty much the same all across Scandinavia, where peoples celebrate it in similar ways.”

Abbe MacFarlane, better known as the director of the East Portland Community Center, volunteers with Portland’s Harmoni Lodge, serving treats while chefs behind her in the booth pour out the batter to make their tasty, genuine Swedish pancakes.

Danish-born SE Portland resident Henrik Bothe wows the ethnic crowd with feats of plate spinning.

Singers and dancers entertained during the day-long event. But, the highlight for many was Danish-born Sellwood resident and variety arts entertainer, Henrik Bothe.

Featuring juggling stunts, high unicycle riding, and magic tricks, Bothe drew a large crowd for each of his shows. A favorite of many was the “Plate Spinning Act” – similar to what many adults recall seeing performed by others on the Ed Sullivan television show.

The audience gasps with amazement as Henrik Bothe flips his derby from his foot, onto his head – while riding a high unicycle.

“Having performed all around the world,” Bothe told East Portland News, “it’s fun to entertain here, just blocks from my home, and receive such an enthusiastic reception from the audience.”

Taking time away from the entertainment, guests visited vendors, buying all kinds of Scandinavian artifacts, imports, and merchandise – and dining on ethnic favorites, ranging from Swedish meatballs to traditional pancake meals.

Wearing costumes, and holding flags representing their respective countries, these ladies lead the procession of the “Midsummer’s Pole.”

Men start the ceremonial raising the “midsom marstång”, or “midsummer’s pole”, at Oaks Amusement Park.

The event that captured the most attention of all – including Oaks Amusement Park guests, who lined up to watch over the fence – was the raising of the “midsom marstång”. As a musician explained to the crowd, “It marks the summer solace, which is why it’s called a ‘midsummer’s pole’ – and not a ‘maypole’!”

The festivities continue into the evening hours, as aficionados of all things Scandinavian celebrate the coming of summer.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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