The 55th Little Norway Festival begins today and Petersburg is ready to celebrate.
This festival celebrates Syttende Mai or May 17, the signing of Norway's Constitution in 1814. Over the more than 50 years since its beginning, the Little Norway Festival has expanded to celebrate, not only, Norway's Constitution but also U.S. Armed Forces Day and the coming of spring and the beginning of the fishing season.
The activities for this celebration run from Thursday to Sunday.
The Little Norway Festival is a grand event that comes together with the cooperation of hundreds. Both visitors and locals alike enjoy Petersburg’s rich heritage through music, dance, art, theater, parades and pageantry. Food, always important in Petersburg, ranges from fine Norwegian pastries to seafood feasts to Alaskan Native fare. The rowdy Vikings and Valkyries stir up mischief wherever and whenever they can. Many residents and visitors of all ages dress in Norwegian Bunader (folk costumes) to host and partake in the Festival events.
“We have a few new events for this year,” Little Norway Festival Committee Chair Holli Flint said. “The Borealis Brass will be here for concerts, the Viking Swim Club Septathlon and there will be two beer gardens this year instead of one.”
The Borealis Brass is made up of professors from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. While they are in Petersburg, they will perform with a UAF student and former Petersburg student Campbell Longworth and Petersburg High School senior Bud Bergen.
“They will be a welcome addition to the festivities,” Flint said. “Be sure to catch them at one of their concerts over the weekend.”
The Viking Swim Club Septathlon is another new event that will pit Viking Swim Club members against alumni. They will compete in seven events and the alumni do not have to be former Petersburg students, just anyone over the age of 18.
“The Harbor Bar sponsors a beer garden every year,” Flint stated. “Kito's Kave will add a beer garden of their own in their parking lot.”
Today's festivities will kick off with the Clausen Memorial Museum Little Norway Art Show at 10 a.m.
Also today, the One Hour Make it - Take it Rosemaling class will begin at 11 a.m. as well as the Pickled Herring Band at Long Term Care.
“The Rosemaling class is filling up fast,” Flint said. “And this is the 10th year that the Pickled Herring Band has performed for the Little Norway Festival.”
The Make it - Take it Rosemaling class has also changed locations from previous years and can be found in the activity room of the Aquatic Center.
The Borealis Brass will perform their first concert of the festival at noon in the Petersburg Borough Assembly Chambers with the Pickled Herring Band moving to Mountain View Manor at 1 p.m.
Live Norwegian sweater modeling can be seen beginning at 2 p.m. at Lee's Clothing. Also at 2 p.m. a Silver Tea will be held to honor the staff of Petersburg Medical Center in the Long Term Care Solarium.
The Viking Swim Club Septathlon will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. and the Wild Celery Art Show will run from 5 to 7 p.m.
The Eric Cole Memorial Softball Tournament will kick off at 6 p.m. and the first live performance of the Mitkof Mummers Musical Melodrama “Way Out West in a Dress… or Life's a Hurdle When You're Wearing a Girdle” will take place at 7 p.m.
“This is the second year for the melodrama after a long absence,” Flint stated. “This event is always very well attended and it was missed in the community.”
Friday the downtown Husflid will open on main street at 10 a.m. and a variety of foods, crafts and other wares will be available. The food court will be located under a big tent in the Hammer and Wikan parking lot.
The Scandinavian Style Show and Luncheon will take place at a different time for the first time in years.
“Due to the fast ferry schedule we changed the time of the Style Show to 12:30 p.m. instead of noon,” Flint stated. “We want to make sure anyone who wishes to attend can at that time.”
Mary Clemens will begin a Muskeg Walk at 2 p.m. with everyone meeting at the Visitors Center. The walk will teach about the unique plants in the peat lands of Mitkof Island.
A Temsco helicopter will kick off the parade by passing through the Narrows with the USA and Norwegian Flags at 4 p.m.
The annual herring toss will take place on Main Street at 4:30 p.m. and the Viking Swim Club Beer Bit Fundraiser Dinner will take place in the Aquatic Center parking lot at that time as well.
The Pickled Herring Band will play an outdoor concert at Inga's Galley beginning at 4 p.m. and Miele Gallery and Framing will host an artist reception for Pia Reilly beginning at 5 p.m.
“Take an opportunity to meet Pia at her reception,” Flint said. “She designed the Little Norway Festival mugs and they are just stunning.”
The Moose Club Lodge Family Center will host steak night beginning at 6 p.m. and the Mitkof Mummers Melodrama can be seen at 7 p.m. as the Borealis Brass performs at Holy Cross House.
Saturday's events begin with the Little Norway Lop the Loop 7K Run/Walk beginning at 8 a.m. The race will start on main street.
From 9 a.m. to noon the USCGC Anacapa and USCGC Elderberry will host an open house on the Coast Guard Dock.
The Pickled Herring Band will be on main street beginning at 10 a.m. along with the Dolly Derby in the North Harbor; Kaffe Hus at the Sons of Norway Hall and the downtown Husflid on main street.
Women of the Moose will host Beer Bits to Go beginning at 11 a.m. and the Beer Gardens will open again at noon.
The Little Norway Festival Pageant will take place at the Petersburg High School Gym at 3 p.m. then move on down to the PFI Cookhouse for an all you can eat Shrimp Feed at 4:30 p.m.
The last showing of the Mitkof Mummers Musical Melodrama will take place at 7 p.m.
Sunday, the last day of festivities will begin at 8 a.m. with the Annual Festival Pancake Breakfast at St. Catherine's Catholic Church and a Rotary Club Seafood Bake and Barbecue at Sandy Beach starting at noon.
“Rain or shine, everyone will want to be downtown Friday and Saturday,” Flint stated. “We have great food and fun scheduled for everyone to enjoy.”