VISTA — Faithful event-goers to The Vista Viking Festival are celebrating a special milestone this year. The annual festival is marking its 15th anniversary.
Event planners claim that participants and spectators will be in for a special treat on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24. Hosts of the festival — the Norwegian Fish Club Odin and Sons of Norway — are pulling out all the stops with action-packed Old World Scandinavian entertainment
such as flaming ax-throwing, fish flinging, a Viking log toss, live combat, Scandinavian food and music, and more.
The Vista Viking Festival, one of the largest fundraisers for the organization, is held at Norway Hall on land purchased by Sons of Norway Lodge in the 1950s.
“We, unlike most lodges, have our own land, which gives us the opportunity to do this festival,” James Nelson-Lucas, director of public narrative, said. “Earlier on, our festival was just a summer/fall festival for mostly lodge members. But in 1992, we added another group to our organization called the Norwegian Fish Club Odin, which is largely for people who are interested in old Norse heritage.
“We have a Viking group, and so they started coming to the summer festivals, and it just got bigger and bigger, and eventually it became a full-fledged festival.”
According to Nelson-Lucas, the festival raises money for the Norway Hall Foundation, which owns and manages the property. Proceeds will go to support improvements to the Viking Village infrastructure.
Nelson-Lucas shared that the Sons of Norway and the Norwegian Fish Club Odin are chartered members of the hall and use the facilities. The hall, lodge and lands were purchased to promote and share the Scandinavian and Norwegian heritage and culture.
Year-round, the Viking Village offers visitors a yesteryear Norwegian experience while hosting other cultural activities. Destinations such as the blacksmith shop, outdoor oven-baking and weapons range for shooting arrows are there all the time; and, many of the frames for the Village houses also remain throughout the year.
However, once a year during the Vista Viking Festival weekend, merchants, entertainers and the public are invited for a memorable experience.
Last year, the weekend drew a crowd of 6,000. Those same numbers are expected this year, and possibly more.
The marketplace will offer purchases ranging from jewelry and handmade items to swords.
“There will be two stages of entertainment which will be largely Celtic folk-rock groups like Highland Way, and we have a pirate band called Dread Crew of Oddwood,” he said.
According to Nelson-Lucas, it takes roughly 600 individuals, all volunteers, to launch the entire event with four chairs and eight general committee members.
“There’s a whole lot of people involved,” he said. “We have not only the Sons of Norway and the Daughters of Norway, but the Norwegian Fish Club Odin. A good number of our members are members of larger organizations and re-enactment groups, so even though those people might not show up to our meetings, they do come and help out at the property and help put on the event.”
For more event details, visit www.vikingfestivalvista.com.