Jamestown’s Scandinavian Folk Festival will take place this summer, after a two-year COVID hiatus, while moving to downtown Jamestown.
The festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, with the colorful flags of the five Nordic countries — Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland — decorating Jamestown’s downtown. At noon Tuesday, July 12, Mayor Eddie Sundquist will proclaim Scandinavian Week and raise the Swedish flag on Tracy Plaza accompanied by Svenska Spelman and the Thule Swedish Folk Dancers.
The festival will have a new central location this year: the air-conditioned Northwest Arena. There will not be any ice on the main rink, which will host vendor stalls with their arrays of handmade and Scandinavian-themed articles. There will also be traditional Swedish food, including meatballs, rice pudding and cucumber salad, all home-cooked by 3 C’s Catering. Norm’s world famous korvburgers will also be served with the choice of lingonberry topping. There will be helpings of pickled herring as well as coffee, lingonberry drink, Danish beer, wine, and other Scandinavian goodies, available throughout the weekend.
For children 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 are required to participate in the curling experience. On-ice activities will take place on the ice rink adjacent to the main area.
The decoration and raising of the Midsummer Pole will begin at 10 a.m. July 16. Festival organizers 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. 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 Street. 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. The Midsummer Pole will remain in place for all to enjoy. This is a free, family-friendly event.
Another popular festival event, the Viking ship will be returning this year. The plan is to dock the 40-foot-long Norseman ship at the McCrea Point Park 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.
The ancient Viking games of Kubb can be played on Lafayette Street and the chess like board game Hnefatafl inside the arena.
There will also be music and dancing. Scandinavian music group Svenska Spelman, featuring fiddles, guitar/banjo, nyckelharpa, and accordion, will play throughout the weekend. The Bonnie Loch Fiddlers will also perform, specializing in Swedish and Celtic music but also performing the traditional tunes of Scotland, Ireland and the Nordic countries.
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 riksspelman (master musicians) in Sweden to perform with this instrument. She will also offer a lecture regarding her musical experience and the nyckelharpa. In addition, Rodriguez will play her instrument at First Lutheran’s church service on Sunday.
The accordion and percussion rhythms of Smorgasbandet will be featured during the festival, including a concert from 9 to 11 p.m. July 16 at Shawbucks.
Throughout the weekend, Jamestown’s Gary Kindberg will be regaling audiences with familiar Swedish American songs. Besides his performances, Kindberg 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 1940s 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 trivia fans, there will be a Scandinavian Trivia Contest.
Scandinavian Folk Festival Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 16, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 17, centered around the Northwest Arena, 319 W. Third St., Jamestown. The festival is sponsored by the American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation. Admission is a $5 donation with children under 16 free. Midsummer Pole decoration, procession, and ring dances are from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday July 16, with activities 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.
Sponsors include the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Statewide Community Regrant Program.
For more information www.scandinavianjamestown.org or call 716-665-0883