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Tradition is king at 52nd Annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
By PATTY HARDIN
FOR COAST WEEKEND
radition links us to the past and
unites us in the present.
Now, with more than 50 festivals
under its belt, the Astoria Scandinavian
Midsummer Festival is a showcase for the
depth of traditions.
This year’s 52nd Annual festival is
held at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds
Friday, June 21-Sunday, June 23, and
kicks off Friday at 2 p.m. Events are held
throughout the weekend and the crowning
of Miss Scandinavia from this year’s festi-
val court is at 7 p.m. Friday.
A generational affair
Carla Oja, co-chair of this year’s fes-
tival, knows how much the festival
“My sons were involved in the festi-
val from the ages of 7-8 years, starting out
with the Nordic Dancers,” Oja said. The
Nordic Dancers are the youngest group of
dancers at the festival.
“The boys once told me not to tell their
friends they were dancing,” Oja contin-
ued. “Their stories changed a bit when
they got older. Then it became ‘all the
girls want to dance with us because we
know how to dance.’”
When Oja’s sons were old enough to
go out of the U.S. on service missions,
they discovered how much they missed
Both of them said they would rather
miss Christmas than miss the festival.
“They looked on the festival as a family
reunion,” Oja said.
Traditional and new
“Traditionally the festival entertain-
ment focused on dancing and music,”
Judith Lampi, publicist for the event, said.
“It has grown and evolved to include live
theater, reader’s theater, Icelandic horses
and a lur player.”
Icelandic horses are mostly pony-sized,
but they are still called horses and can
carry a 225-pound man.
Joan Paddock, professor of music at
Linfield College, will play the lur, an
obscure Scandinavian trumpet. Paddock
was the first woman to receive a doctor-
ate in trumpet performance from Indiana
Members of the 2019 Scandinavian Midsummer Festival court at the Loyalty Day parade in Long Beach, Wash., on May 5. From left: 2018 Miss
Scandinavia Kortney Tischner of Knappa, who was last year’s Miss Finland, crown bearer Kirk Rohne, Miss Denmark Isabel Talley, Junior Miss
Denmark Harmony Harrod, Junior Miss Finland Chloe Jean Stelzig and Miss Finland Sofia Morrill.
IF YOU GO
When: 2 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 21; 7 a.m.
to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 22 and 7 a.m. to
4 p.m., Sunday, June 23
Where: Clatsop County Fairgrounds,
92937 Walluski Loop, Astoria.
Details: 3-Day Admission Button: $8
adults; $3 children ages 6-12; children 5
and under free.
Parking: $2 per day or $5 weekend pass
For more information, visit astoriascan-
fest.com or the festival’s Facebook page:
In 1612 a young Norwegian girl was
credited with saving her village from
Scottish mercenaries by playing the lur.
“The more popular events are the ones
related to heritage and family,” Lampi
said. “The festival is about heritage and
tradition – it’s the fabric of our commu-
nity. There’s a lot of pride in working to
make this event happen. We want our fes-
tival to be authentic.”
Oja agreed and said, “Ours is the most
authentic of Scandinavian festivals in
The festival was chosen by the State
of Oregon to be an Oregon Heritage
Jorgen Madsen, Grand Marshal for this
year’s Op Tog Walking Parade, watched
his oldest daughter, Ann, crowned Miss
Scandinavia in 1984.
In 2009 Madsen’s granddaughter, Jodi,
was crowned Miss Scandinavia. Now
Madsen watches his great grandchildren
participating in and enjoying all the festi-
val has to offer.
Berit and Jorgen Madsen have been
part of the festival since 1974.
Family fun and passing the torch
A key thing to remember, according to
Berit, is that this is a family festival.
“It’s about family, fun, and heritage,”
Berit said. “Kids that grew up here and
moved away come back for the festival.
The family connection is important.”
Dancing has always been an important
part of the festival.
“My kids became friends with a dance
group in Portland and they remain friends
to this day,” Berit said.
“Multi-generations work to make the
festival happen, “Berit said. “The old and
the young work together. “The older peo-
ple are passing the torch to the younger
The older people may not be able to do
some of the physical work required to put
the festival together so they now direct
the younger people on what needs to be
The festival gives seniors the oppor-
tunity to share their family traditions and
history with the younger generations.
Those who have never attended the festi-
val have the chance to learn about a new
Visit the festival’s website, astoriascan-
fest.com, for a full schedule of events and