TR Robertson — Vista, CA –Another warm, beautiful September weekend brought out thousands of residents from throughout the county and beyond to once again take part in the fun and festivities of the 16th annual Vista Viking Festival. The Festival is sponsored and run by the Sons of Norway Norge Lodge as they bring in a plethora of musical acts, arts and crafts, live historical re-enactments, vendors selling “Viking wares”, a wide range of foods including Scandinavian selections, and numerous activities young and old can take part in. The annual event took place at the Norway Hall Cultural Center on E. Vista Way, Home to the Sons of Norway, Norway Lodge #6-060 and the Norwegian Fish Club Odin. The Sons of Norway Norge Lodge was originally founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1895 and the Norwegian Fish Club Odin was charted in 1992. The Daughter of Norway, Hulda Garborg Lodge was founded in 1908 and has 1,600 members.
The popular festival had simple beginnings in 2003 when Jordan and Ruth Ann Malbrough and Robert Undhhiem and his wife were having dinner and dreamed up the idea for a Fall Festival event celebrating everything Viking and Scandinavian. The small festival had several hundred attendees and within a year they had raised enough money to put a fence around the Norway Hall Cultural Center property. Last year the two day event had around 9,500 visitors, growing each year and hopes are that this year will bring even more.
Many, many visitors dressed in Viking apparel, as well as other costumes. On the grounds you could see pirates, mystical fantasy costumes and any number of other outfits. One interesting fact, a number of metal and plastic Viking helmets were available for purchase, but it should be noted, there has never been any indication or artifact found that showed Vikings wearing helmets with horns attached. It just looks like something the Vikings might or should have done. Visitors bringing in swords, knives, hatchets or any other weapon had to fill out and sign a Peace Binding of Weapons Agreement before they could enter the festival. Enchanted Braids was attending the festival for the very first time and owner Kathy Brauer was excited to take part in the event and had her employees in traditional costumes for the day as they braided anyone who wanted a different hair style.
Over 30 vendors, 13 breweries and meaderies, and numerous historical re-enactments and games were set-up throughout the walkways and wooded areas of the Cultural Center. In the Norway Hall, visitors could see a variety of Scandinavian arts and crafts as well as purchase Scandinavian food items like Lefse, a traditional Norwegian soft flatbread treat or delicious Krumkake, made with a cone cookie filled with whipped cream and lingonberry. These items were made by members of the Hulda Garborg Lodge. One of the traditional Norwegian crafts for sale was the Mangleboard, use in laundry work, also used for the traditional of proposal when a young man wanted to proposed to a particular woman. For most of the food and drink items, $1.00 tickets could be purchased, although many of the food vendors took money.
As visitors wandered the grounds and headed to the Weapons Range they could try their hand at archery, sponsored by the Willow Creek Archery organization of Escondido, as well as trying spear throwing or ax throwing. Instructors ensured safety and showed participants how to use the items. Alanna Dunaway, #2 woman in the nation for archery according to the National Archery Association, is the Head Coach for Willow Creek Archery. At the Northern Bar Beer Garden, Twisted Horn Meadery offered Viking board games for people to play, such as Daldosa and Hnefatafl.
At the northern most part of the Cultural Center property a Living History Viking Village and Marketplace allowed visitors a chance to see reenactment groups show what life might have looked like in a Viking Village, minus the cold weather. Members of groups like Celtic Norse, Drafn, Guardians of Midgaard, Red Hand, Vesterfolk and Wolves of Odin showed festival goers skills in blacksmithing, fabric arts, fine metal working and cooking. Richard Burk and James Krossler, members of Drafn, have been coming to the festival for years and have constructed authentic clay ovens for baking bread. They will bake about 70 loaves for this year’s festival. These ovens resemble those found at Yorkvic, England, from 9th and 10th century Viking settlements. We also spoke with Gauka Mjoksiglandi, otherwise known as Erick Davis, who was melting, pouring and designing pewter castings, using authentically designed methods from Viking history. In various tents and encampments visitors could see weapons, armament, helmets, chainmail and shields, authentically designed.
Throughout the marketplace of the festival a variety of vendors sold drinking horns, jewelry, knives, essential oils, and much, much more. Throughout the day, many “Viking” related events took place. Reenactors took part in Viking Combat, competitors showed their strength in the Viking Log Toss, Viking Horn blowing, Flaming Ax Throwing, along with the Famous Fish Fling and the Viking Battle Cry and more, there was much to watch and take part in.
Many of the festival attendees come to the Viking Festival to watch performers on the two stages of live entertainment. Highland Way kicked things off at the Odin Stage, followed by a Viking-Folk-Rock band from Denmark called Krauka. On the Loke Stage, the Southern California Damekor Women’s Ensemble sang authentic Scandinavian choral music, followed by The Fire playing fiddle, bagpipe, jig and reel. The Pirate-Folk-Metal band, Dread Crew off Oddwood had things jumping, as did the Bawdy Juggler.
Photos by Brian Robertson
Kids at the festival also had a lot to do as a KidsZone gave them a chance to be creative in making small decorative shields and more as well as face painting for everyone. There were a number of competitions designed for young people as well.
The official Beer Sponsors for the Fair were Einstok and Belching Beaver. Also available in tents in the Northern Bar Beer and Mead Garden was Lost Cause Meadery (from San Diego), Meadiocrity, Twisted Horn (from Vista), Gold Coast (from Oceanside), Battlemage, Bronto Mead (from Miramar), Raging Cider & Mead (from San Marcos), Breakwater Brewery (from Oceanside), Mjodhall Meadery (from Escondido), Arcana Brewing Company (from Carlsbad), Ebullition Brewery (from Vista), Craft Brewing and Honeyrun (from Chico). Breakwater Brewery announced that they had just won a gold medal for their Rhy Dawn at the GABBA competition in Denver, Colorado. Also available in the Beer Garden was Oink & Bun pulled pork sandwiches and Gourmet Grilled Cheese as well as Althings Vikingr providing traditional Norse Goods.
The Vista Viking Festival is one of the Vista events thousands look forward to each year as September rolls along. It is a growing event with lots of things for many to get involved in. For anyone interested in learning more about Norway and all things Norwegian, you can stop in The House of Norway in Balboa Park at the International Village, open on Saturdays and Sundays. For those interested in The Viking Festival and how to get involved, contact the Norway Hall Cultural Center at 2006 E. Vista Way.
Photos by Brian Robertson