Annual Viking Fest to return to Bay Ridge this weekend

Be a Viking for a day.

The Scandinavian East Coast Museum (SECM) will host its annual Viking Fest in Owl’s Head Park, 68th Street and Colonial Road, on Saturday, May 18, a day before the Norwegian Parade.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees will enjoy typical Viking Day fanfare, such as music, dance, a scavenger hunt, games, rides, Scandinavian arts and crafts, and more.

“We are having the Viking ship back so we are really happy about that,” said SECM President Victoria Hofmo. In addition, she told this paper, ”We are going to have two reenactment groups [The Society for Creative Anachronism and Historic Arms] and a scavenger hunt starting at 10 a.m.”

There will also be a traditional Norse ritual performed by the New York City Heathens which Hofmo said, “is really about including nature.”

A new addition this year will be the Festooned Facial Hair Contest with prizes given to the people with the best decorated Viking style facial hair. One winner will be chosen from contestants with natural facial hair; the other will be chosen from those who compete with “artificial fuzz.” There’s a $5 fee for entering the competition.

Music will be provided by Sean LeFleur, who Hofmo said will be “doing a medley including Scandinavian music, classics and contemporary songs — some really cool stuff.”

One of the goals of the event is to teach those who stop by about Vikings and Scandinavian culture.

“The idea is to find out more about the culture and history from the different reenactment groups,” Hofmo said.

At noon, the performance component, entitled Touched By the Vikings, will begin. It will include musical and dance performances from cultures that had a connection to the Vikings, and local artists will take part.  Performers this year include Ellen Lindstrom on accordion, the Clann Eireann Pipers, the Donny Golden School of Irish Dance, Reel Celtic and Young Dancers in Repertory.

Viking Fest has been going on for close to two decades, noted Hofmo.

“People are all excited about the Vikings, no matter what their background,” she said. “Once you get people into that, I feel like you can extend the story and talk about their contributions to New York, as a cross-cultural connection to other cultures. The Vikings are a good example of really reaching out and integrating with different people.”

Viking Fest, said Hofmo, “Attracts different people for different reasons. Last year, even in the pouring rain, there was a man that came in from Sunset Park who was really into the armor and that kind of stuff and he dressed up. A family always comes from Manhattan — I think the mother is from Norway. She likes the tradition of it, that it’s consistent and it’s very grassroots. There are people who come to see the Viking ship.”

Having Viking Fest take place the day before the Norwegian parade makes the neighborhood into a “cultural destination,” Hofmo noted.

“There are people sometimes coming from Norway to join us here which is kind of amazing,” she went on. “It attracts people of all ages, from all walks of life.”

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