We love Norway!

Photo: Bea Ahbeck / Norway Day Festival

Solveig Erlingsson and her granddaughter Hannah at the Norway Day Festival 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. This year’s festival will take place May 5 – 6.Photo: Bea Ahbeck / Norway Day Festival

Norway Day Festival in San Francisco offers fun for Norwegians of all ages

Presented by the Royal Norwegian Consul General, the 20th annual Norway Day Festival, held on May 5 and 6, 2012, will once again be held on the waterfront of San Francisco in the 50,000 square foot Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center. The 2012 event plans to attract over 5,000 visitors to learn about and celebrate Norway’s past, present and bright future.

The Norway Day Festival in San Francisco is the largest Norwegian-centric festival in the country and has a very important purpose. Our vision is to promote and maintain a close, mutually satisfactory relationship between Norway, her visitors and descendants. This applies in many areas, but especially culture, tourism, industry, and technology.

The Norwegian-American and native Norwegian community currently living on the west coast look to the festival as a way to reconnect with their roots, celebrate their beloved culture, and perhaps even get inspired to visit Norway! Whether it’s something they’ve heard talk about from their Norwegian ancestors, or something they are seeking out to help cure a little homesickness, the music, language, food and other offerings at the festival remind them of what makes them proud of their culture and their country.

Along with their emotional ties to “Old Norge,” today’s Norwegians are equally anxious to promote the modern Norway, and the advances that have been made in the areas of technology, design, ecology, and world diplomacy. We have come to realize that this festival is an excellent opportunity for non-Norwegians to learn more about this wonderful country, which is quickly becoming a major player in the world’s view.

Our hope is that when an attendee leaves the festival, they want to visit Norway, invest in Norway’s economy, and share their newfound knowledge with friends and family.

The Norway Day Festival is a very family-friendly festival with live on-stage entertainment, fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, vendors selling Norwegian crafts, clothing, authentic food and drink, art, and much more! There are plenty of activities for kids as well, including sing-alongs, a bounce house, crafts, dancing, storytelling, and games.

Additionally, the 2012 festival will feature Christoffer Svæ, Olympic silver medalist and current European Champion in the winter sport of curling, will be on hand for curling demonstrations, autographs, and of course, will be wearing his famous red, white and blue argyle pants, furnished by the Bay Area company Loudmouth Golf.

In an “Antiques Roadshow” style event, Laurann Gilbertson, Chief Curator at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa will be on hand to help you learn about your family heirloom’s age, origin, and function. Please note that she will not give valuations or appraisals. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring small items or photos of their antique, as safe storage will be limited.

On hand sampling their fine microbrews will be Kjetil Jikiun of Nøgne Ø, Norway’s leading and largest supplier of bottle-conditioned ale and the first and only producer of unfiltered sake in Europe.

A fabulous fashion show featuring the latest designs from hot designers Mitchi Sportswear,  Moods of Norway, and more!

Interesting exhibits featuring Norwegian art, history, and innovations will also be featured, including an exhibit of rarely seen photographs and artifacts from Roald Amundsen’s polar expeditions on loan from the Royal Norwegian Consul General and the Norwegian Men’s Club of San Francisco.

“This year’s festival is focusing on acknowledging Norway’s rich past and traditions, while celebrating the ‘modern Norway,’ and showcasing many of the innovations and global contributions that Norway has made in recent history,” comments Marissa Miller, president of the festival. “Norway is consistently ranked one of the best countries in the world to live. Norwegians are anxious to promote their homeland and invite everyone to come and enjoy their culture, traditions, and to see what’s new!”

For more information, visit www.norwayday.org or call (415) 225-1431.

This article originally appeared in the Mar. 23, 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.