Scandinavia at its best

A little rain couldn’t dampen Scandinavian spirit at the 28th annual ScanFest in Budd Lake, N.J.

L to R: Ingrid Olsson Feingold, Lorraine Carlsen Knudson, Arlene Tjornholm, Cindy Tjornholm Stevens, Liz Kat, Chrisitne Grady Tina, Herb & Helen Jacobsen, Anny Syvertsen, Berit Petersen. Representing the Brooklyn Norwegians at Scan Fest.


By Roy Jorgensen

Norwegian American Weekly

The 28th ScanFest on September 2 was once again a  huge success having between 4000 and 5000 attendees (the final tally is not yet complete at this writing) coming from the four state area and  some from as far as Washington DC.

ScanFest is held in Budd Lake, New Jersey on the grounds of Vasa Park which is rented for the occasion and proceeds of admissions are supporting the ScanFest, a not-for profit organization promoting the culture of the Scandinavian countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Each visitor is offered a small lapel flag to indicate from countries one has his heritage – some often wearing several flags !

There is something for everyone at the festival – for toddlers, music lovers (classical, modern, pop, folk), dancers, lectures on Scandinavian-American history and genealogy and probably most popular of all treats for the Scandinavian foodies both for on-site enjoyment and take away.  There are three venues for entertainment so no matter where you are at any given moment you may stop to enjoy the sounds of Grieg and Sibelius, the Swedish nyckelharpa, the Hardanger fiddles, jazz, Finnish tango and folk.  The program will allow one to hear special favorites at specific times in the respective venues.  A special feature this year was The ABBA Girlz Band who did magnificent renditions of their namesake. A couple of bands played familiar Scandinavian tunes to which one could dance at one of the pavilions.

Miss Sweden Day and Miss Norway of Greater New York Amanda Berntsen were honored guests.

A little more serious and informative were lectures on Norwegian life in Brooklyn presented by Lars Nilsen of the Norwegian Immigration Assoc., Inc. with a silent film, “Glimpses of Norwegian Life in the New World” and on Danish settlements in the Northeast offered by Wendy Hudson of The Danish Brotherhood.  Kristina O’Doherty advised people on searching for roots in Scandinavia.

Children are not neglected at this festival as they can hear and watch renditions of H.C. Andersen  with music and acting. Clarence the Clown filled time between acts.  And, later children as well as adults could watch the Viking and Medieval re-enactors make Viking life come alive.  For the third year for a amusement there was a wife-carrying contest the winner of which gets beer according to the weight of the “wife”.  The model Viking ship is a popular exhibit make one wonder about his ancestors of many hundreds of years ago.

As in all festivals food is an import part of the day, no less so at ScanFest where one can have ice cream in waffles, pulled pork, pizza and for the Scandinavian foodies smorrebrod, gravlaks, kjottboller, pannekaker, frikdeller, Wienerbrod, rugbrod, fyrstekake and more for on-site enjoyment and take away.  Brooklyn ites were especially pleased to see Leske’s Bakery had reopened and had a booth at the fest.

ScanFest could take up an entire issue of NAW but this summary will have to be enough for now.  One has to visit to appreciate the experience. The festival is well organized and I suspect takes place on Labor Day Sunday as the traffic is relatively light. Parking is no problem and distant parking is accompanied by shuttle buses.  Everything runs smoothly and efficiently.  For the 29th ScanFest there may be special buses from New York City. Kathy Hval and her committee are to be congratulated on a wonderful day of Scandinavian culture.  One can look at their web site to get the full picture of the fest:

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 14, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.