Little Norway Festival kicks off

The Vikings and Valkyries of Petersburg will soon be wandering the streets again, participating in the Little Norway Festival’s biggest schedule yet.

This year’s celebration of Norwegian heritage, Syttende Mai (May 17, the day Norway’s Constitution was signed in 1814), Armed Forces Day, the upcoming fishing season and spring will feature a couple of new events, Little Norway Festival Committee Chair Janet Holten said.

The Devil’s Thumb Shooters Petersburg Rod and Gun Club will be holding a raffle to support students headed to the state shoot in Anchorage, and a drawing for a rifle and shotgun on Sunday, when there will also be a matinee for the Mitkof Mummers’ play “Shipwreck on Cannery Island,” offering attendees an extra day to catch the show.

The play found a new director and writer in Orin Pierson this year, who co-wrote it with Mary Koppes.

“That’s new and exciting,” Holten said. “That, that talent (Pierson and Koppes), we’re going to be able to enjoy it.”

The festival started Wednesday, but really gets rolling today (Thursday) with events such as the Petersburg High School Reunion BBQ, one of the biggest reunions with alumni from 1956-1973, Holten noted.

The festival’s annual parade starts at 4 p.m. on Friday with the Temsco helicopter passing through the Narrows carrying the U.S. and Norwegian flags, and a dedication of the drive down facility will occur at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Mayor Mark Jensen and dignitaries such as Gov. Bill Walker, Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) and Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) are expected to attend.

Tomkins said he’s planning to arrive Friday morning, unless the legislative session is reconvened this week.

“Which would be a bummer because Little Norway is the center of the world for those few days,” he said, “but it would also be good for Alaska if we did actually reconvene and do our work.”

The popular Little Norway Festival Pageant also falls on Saturday, and on Sunday and Monday, the Wrangell Horse Club will offer horse and buggy rides on the Red Ball Field to support a Rotary exchange student Jasmine Ieremia headed to Thailand.

The Little Norway Festival got its start in 1958 when two local women, Bernadine Trones and Alma Wallen, founded it.

“I think that it’s a wonderful way to remember our past and celebrate what happens in spring here in Petersburg,” Holten said.

The Little Norway Festival Committee gathers in early spring to start preparing for the Chamber of Commerce event funded through raffle ticket sales, booth sign-ups and various sponsors.

“We have lots of support in a variety of ways that make Little Norway a reality,” Holten said. “It takes the whole community to pull it together.”

Full schedules are available at the Chamber of Commerce, in the Petersburg Pilot and online at


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