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Here and There: A midsummer Scandinavian’s dream

Sun., April 12, 2009

If I ran the zoo, a Swedish festival would include the Nobel Prize for Zippers and dynamite for all the kids. And everyone could shake hands with my cousin’s drop-dead gorgeous Swedish wife.

Instead of this inspiring homage to Swedish ingenuity, Oregon’s Astoria and Warrenton intend to dazzle you with pickled herring.

I wash my hands of this travesty. They don’t even mention massage, saunas or meatballs!

What’s more, they can’t seem to focus. They’re all over the place, celebrating Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, too.

From June 19 to 21, their 42nd annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival rolls it all up into one giant tip of the hat to the immigrants who “turned the region into a boomtown between the late 1800s and mid 1900s.”

So instead of sexy Swedish ladies and those yummy crispy ginger cookies, you’ll be treated to Alpine yodeling, the Running of the Trolls and something known as the “chicken dance.”

I am not making this up.

I’m pretty sure you don’t have to actually be an official troll to trot through the countryside for a mile and a half or as many as 5.75 miles, as you like.

As with all festivals, you’ll find costumes, arts and crafts. The other delights awaiting you include the Viking encampment show; Viking, Nordic and Scandia dancing (this presumably is where the aforementioned chicken dance comes into play); dance lessons for you; the Queen’s Ball; and accordion music galore.

To build up your strength for all this hoofing, tuck into Swedish pea soup, lefse and the Finnish pancake breakfast. Don’t forget the beer garden.

For entertainment purposes, organizers will coronate Miss Scandinavia, and present Kerry Christensen and his Alpine yodels.

They speculate that Christensen may be the world’s only full-time yodeler. This year, he’ll do his thing in as many as 23 states and two or three countries.

The Finlandia Foundation’s 2009 National Performer of the Year will make the scene as well.

Terhi Mikki-Boersma plays organ, piano, accordion and her favorite, the bassoon.

Then the festival takes an academic turn with a lecture on World War II.

Here’s my favorite: the dusk torchlight parade and hex burning bonfire.

Hex burning! Yeah!

OK, OK. I admit the festival does sound fun. Find out more at

Regional events

•Annual Essexpress Railfan Weekend, May 1-5, Essex, Mont. – The train lover’s pilgrimage is back with train chasing, history seminars, slide shows, guest speakers and all the opportunities to photograph trestles, snow sheds and trains you dream of. The Izaak Walton Inn offers special train-geek rates. ( 406-888-5700)

•Eighth Annual Nelson Garden Festival, May 1-9, Nelson, B.C. – More than 35 vendors will offer you plants and “all things gardening.” That includes four workshops and, oddly, Garden Festival Film Night. ( 877-663-5706)

•Western Art Roundup and Quick Draw, May 1-June 21, Miles City, Mont. – Get your fill of traditional to contemporary Western and tribal art. The “quick draw” part involves 15 to 20 artists completing pieces within 30 minutes, then auctioning them off to the audience. ( 406-234-0635)

Christianne Sharman can be reached by e-mail at

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