Scandinavian Folk Festival Returns

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Article Contributed by
Claire Hanley

Jamestown’s iconic Scandinavian Folk Festival will take place this summer, after a two-year Covid hiatus. So, mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, July 16, and July 17, 2022. And watch for the colorful flags of the five Nordic countries Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland that will be decorating Jamestown’s downtown. Behold Scandinavia! At noon on Tuesday, July 12, Jamestown’s Mayor Eddie Sundquist will proclaim Scandinavian week and raise the Swedish flag on Tracy Plaza accompanied by Svenska Spelmän and the Thule Swedish Folk Dancers.

The Festival will have a new central location this year: the Northwest Arena. There will not be any ice on the main rink, so you will not have to don ice skates to enjoy browsing the vendor stalls with their arrays of hand-made and Scandinavian-themed articles. You will be able to enjoy traditional Swedish food, from succulent meatballs to rice pudding, to cool cucumber salad, all home-cooked by the famous Three-C’s Catering, no matter if the weather outside is pouring rain or unbearably hot and humid. Norm’s world famous korvburgers will also be served with the choice of lingonberry toping. There will be helpings of pickled herring, for those with hardier Nordic tastes. And, of course, coffee, lingonberry drink, Danish beer, wine, and other Scandinavian goodies, will be available throughout the weekend.

For the kids, of any age, the ice rink will feature ice bumper car rides as well as the opportunity to experience a hands-on introduction to the Nordic sport of Curling. No ice skates required to participate in the curling experience so form a team or come as an individual to enjoy the fun. For teams, preparing for the Fall tournaments, this would be a great practice session. These activities will take place on the ice rink adjacent to the main area on Saturday only from 2 PM to 6 PM..

One of the Festival’s most popular and quintessentially Swedish events, the decoration and raising of the Midsummer Pole, will begin at 10 AM, Saturday morning. We will welcome residents and visitors who wish to participate, both by contributing fresh flowers and greenery from local fields and gardens, and by helping to decorate the pole. One might want to share flowers in memory of ancestors. The Jamestown Thule Swedish Folk Dancers will be coordinating the activities, which will take place at the weekly Jamestown Public Market, along Third Street near Cherry St. The Public Market, featuring a Scandinavian theme, will be specially expanded to accommodate the musicians, dancers, and the twenty-two foot long Midsummer Pole. Once decorated, the pole will be carried along Third Street, accompanied by musicians playing traditional Swedish tunes, to a location outside the Arena. Here, it will be raised, fixed firmly in place, and everyone will have an opportunity to join in the traditional Swedish ring dances. Kids love this! Especially when they get to wear a flowery Midsummer wreath! The Midsummer Pole will remain in place for all to enjoy. This is a free, family-friendly event and we welcome all who wish to participate.

Another popular Festival event, the Viking ship will be returning this year. The plan is to dock the forty-foot-long Norseman ship at McCrea Point boat landing before the Festival on the morning of Friday, July 15 and to sail up the Chadakoin River to the Lakewood area in the early afternoon. The ship and its crew will be stationed on Lafayette Street during the weekend. The ship can be boarded with the opportunity to learn more about the Vikings from the crew. Prepare to get a taste of life as a Viking. The ancient Viking games of Kubb can be played on Lafayette Street and the chess like board game Hnefatafl inside the Arena.

There will, of course, be music and dancing. Favorite local Scandinavian music group, Svenska Spelmän, with their fiddles, guitar/banjo, nyckelharpa, and accordion will play throughout the weekend. And, this year, we will feature another popular local group, the Bonnie Loch Fiddlers. These fiddlers specialize in Swedish and Celtic music, but those Vikings get around, and the traditional tunes of Scotland, Ireland and the Nordic countries are related.

The Swedes developed their very own stringed instrument, a variation of the more widely known fiddle. Called the nyckelharpa, it has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in the past years, attracting the interest of players from all over the globe. We have invited Alyssa Rodriquez, a talented musician who has studied in Finland under a Fulbright grant as well as with recognized riksspelmän (master musicians) in Sweden to perform with this instrument. She will also offer a lecture regarding her musical experience and the nyckelharpa. In addition, Alyssa will play her instrument at First Lutheran’s church service on Sunday which begins at 10:30 AM.

A Festival favorite, the popular and much-loved music group, straight from Long Island and years of playing for Scandinavian events all over New Jersey and New York, will be returning. The accordion and percussion rhythms of Smörgåsbandet will have you dancing in the streets. If you remain seated, leader Jeanne Eriksson Widman Andersen will pull you out of your seat to dance with you! This group will shake you out of your post-COVID blues. And plan to attend their Saturday evening session at downtown Jamestown’s cozy Shawbucks restaurant from 9 PM to 11 PM.

Throughout the weekend, Jamestown’s very own Gary Kindberg, will be regaling audiences with old familiar Swedish American songs. You and listen and sing along with Hälsa Dem Där Hemma and catch the names of all the people who attended John Johnson’s Wedding. He promises he will not sing all the verses of the Norwegian favorite Nikolina. Besides his performances, Gary will be leading a Swedish hymn sing-along on Sunday morning.

The Jamestown Thule Swedish Folk Dancers, whose dancing tradition stretches back to the early 1940‘s with such crowd-pleasing favorites as The Ox Dance, The Weaving Dance, and Tre Karls Polska, will be returning after a two-year COVID break. Performances will take place on Saturday and Sunday in the Arena.

For you Trivia fans, there will be a Scandinavian Trivia Contest. So, start memorizing the names of the Norwegian monarchs, Sweden’s national flower, the northernmost Swedish Province, the famous Finnish composer, the Danish GNP, which Nordic countries belong to the EU, how many Swedes emigrated to North America in the 19th century, and … well you get the idea!

If you feel the need to brush up on your knowledge or Scandinavian culture and the history of local Swedish immigrants, make a point of sitting in on the informative presentations, given by local experts.

The Scandinavian Folk Festival Hours: Saturday July 16, 2022, 10 AM to 8 PM: Sunday July 17, 2022, 10 AM to 4 PM, Northwest Arena, 319 West Third at Lafayette Streets, Jamestown, NY 14701. Sponsored by The American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation. Admission $5 donation, children under sixteen free. Midsummer Pole decoration, procession, and ring dances: Saturday July 16, 10 AM to Noon. Free at the Jamestown Public Market. For Festival guests there will be a $2 charge for Ice Bumper Car rides (must be at least 3 years old) and for the Introduction to the Sport of Curling.

This project is made possible with financial donations from many individuals and local organizations and businesses. We recognize the support from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Statewide Community Regrant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by Arts Services, Inc., and the Tri-County Arts Council.

For more information www.scandinavianjamestown.org or 716-665-0883