The local Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is in its 19th year. We attempted to go last year, but it didn’t work out and so were determined to make it this summer solstice. We woke up early with the baby boy and off we went to the Scandinavian Cultural Centre to make it in time for the brunch. We ate, we roamed around through the tents dedicated to each country, we browsed the artisans’ wares, we ate some more, we drank a goodly amount of beer, we watched the young couples warm up for the wife-carrying contest, we listened to music and we watched lovely ladies walk by with handmade flower crowns. I wished to make a flower crown of my own, but the table was filled with ravenous flower-hungry women and I did not wish for an elbow in the eye.
The food was nothing to write home about, there were only pale ales on tap, there were only a few artisans of note, and there was a lot of non-Scandinavian-ness going on, but overall we had a wonderful midsummer’s day. We even ran into my old wonderful Finnish landlord who I miss. Old because he’s no longer our landlord and also beacause he’s a grandpa. We tired out the baby so much that he fell asleep in my arms at the beer garden after many smiles and giggles and then we all fell asleep together on the bed as soon as we came home. The sun and fresh air from the beautiful poplar and birch forest must’ve gotten to us all!
The highlight of the festival for the Poisoner and I was the Viking Village put on mainly by members of the local An Tir SCA. The people involved lived, ate, worked, and slept in the village for the whole weekend — pretending they were living centuries ago. There were merchants and tradesmen, warriors and weavers, children and babies. The only thing missing was the spiritual aspect, but that may have been to avoid offending the large Christian population in attendance. There was, however, a massive and intricate “maypole” in the main area of the festival wound completely with live ivy and danced around by children at the end of the day.
Toy axes, a set of wooden blocks for a game of kubb, felted children’s toys, embroidery, a lovely wooden pail, and freshly harvested herbs.
The carved post of a merchant’s handmade tent.
A women sits in the centre of the village preparing a stew over an open fire with an assortment of beautiful wooden and cast iron cookware.
Weavers ply their trade, one with an upright loom and stone weights weaving fabric and another crafting decorative trim with card weaving.
The weavers laid out a table of naturally dyed wools with the botanicals used to dye them to show how we once coloured our cloth using only things found in nature.
Weapon porn. Need I say more? There were beautifully painted shields throughout the site – these were simple but lovely.
There were two metalsmiths working their trade; one stamping the decorative tip to a knife sheath and the other carefully weaving a necklace chain with the finest wire. He had two simple but clever wooden vices that I would love to recreate for my own use.
Before we headed home I wandered into one of the green spaces to soak up the cooling forest on the warm midsummer day. There was a gentle breeze through the birch and black cottonwood trees, there were bright red elderberries everywhere, and it was deliciously quiet away from all the crowds of people. I thanked the forest for its peace and beauty and then we three headed home.
The man and I agreed we’d go again next year as the Viking Village and the beer alone were worth it.