For the 17th year, the neighborhood’s beloved Viking Fest took over Owl’s Head Park for the greater part of Saturday, May 20.
The fun-filled day, held in anticipation of the hood’s annual Norwegian Constitution Day Parade, celebrates the history of Norwegian culture through entertainment – specifically for local children and their families – via costumes, games, reenactors and more.
It is sponsored by the Scandinavian East Coast Museum (SECM).
“It’s a way for us to share and educate the larger community about the history of the neighborhood and the Scandinavian community,” SECM President Victoria Hofmo told this paper prior to this year’s Viking Fest. “They’re overlooked and they’ve contributed greatly to this community. We want to share that and be proud. The best way to do that is to share our culture and food and that kind of thing.”
As for this year’s turnout, she said, it was tremendous.
“We had a really, really great turnout,” said Hofmo, stressing that at least three groups came to the festival all the way from Norway. “I really feel like, between this and the parade, [Bay Ridge at this time] has really become a cultural destination. These people are coming all the way from Norway to celebrate with us, and that’s incredible.”
On top of Viking Fest and the parade, Hofmo said, she and fellow organizers have worked to put together compilations of local restaurants and other “happenings” that visitors can utilize while they’re in for the weekend — or even longer.
“It’s really great for local business,” she said, thanking everybody who participated this year, from volunteers and attendees to performers and sponsors. “People keep stepping their game up and it’s just so awesome to see.”
Kids this year were treated to a viewing of the Norseman – a replica Viking ship – that came complete with its crew.
The afternoon’s entertainment included Ellen Lindstrom of the Swedish Meatballs, the Donny Golden School of Irish Dance, the Clann Eireann Pipers and Young Dancers in Repertory.
The day also included samplings of traditional Norwegian cuisine, a rosemaling (decorative) painting demo, Scandinavian items for sale and, of course, games with “Crazy Carlsen.”