Midsommarfest event set for St. Edward Park
June 22, 2009 · Updated 6:13 PM
A spokesperson for the Skandia Folkdance Society, Elaine Everitt said about 3,000 people descended on Kenmore’s St. Edward State Park in June 2008 just in time for the summer solstice, usually the longest day of the year, with the sun high in the sky.
Those visitors watched as celebrants, many wearing traditional flower crowns, brought out their klickor to raise a 45-foot majstang into the air. Songs, dancing and games followed.
A large pole, covered with garlands and hung with three large flower rings, the rising of the majstang is no doubt one of the highlights of the annual Skandia Midsommarfest, set this year for 11 a.m. June 28 at St. Edward State Park. The majstang rises up at 2:30 p.m.
This is the 51st year for the Skandia Midsommarfest, which came to Kenmore in 2001 and celebrates the traditions of Sweden and other Scandinavian cultures, including those of Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Everitt said midsommar events are large, family oriented affairs throughout Scandinavia.
“It’s a very important time,” she said. “Each Scandinavian country celebrates the solstice.”
Possessing a Scandinavian heritage herself, Everitt added she personally can attest that Scandinavian countries are far enough north on the globe that in mid-summer the days include very little if any nightfall, while night lasts all day during the height of winter. She said she has pictures of the noon sun sitting exactly on the horizon.
As most know, the Puget Sound region traditionally has a large Scandinavian population. The Midsommarfests started in Gig Harbor, then traveled to Poulsbo before landing in Kenmore in 2001.
Initially, the change in venue hurt festival attendance with only 800 people showing up for that first year at St. Edward. Everitt said that since then, word of the event has spread and visitor numbers have climbed steadily and steeply every year.
While the raising of the majstang is a highlight of the event, visitors also can look for traditional dances, or “gammaldans,” such as schottis, hambo, polska and waltzes. Children are invited to help raise a smaller, 10-foot majstang at about 1:30 p.m.
Visitors further can sample some Scandinavian cuisine such as lefse, frikadeller (meatballs) and peruse cultural exhibits and crafts on the Hemslojdsmarknad, described on the Skandia Web site as an avenue of traditional artisans demonstrating and displaying their wares.
Admission to Midsommarfest is free, though Midsommarfest buttons are available for a $2 donation. Everitt said carpooling is encouraged.
For more information, visit www.skandia-folkdance.org or call (206) 784-7470.