The Scandinavian Festival is an annual four-day celebration of Scandinavian heritage in Junction City, Oregon, United States. The small city of 4,500 people hosts more than 100,000 visitors each year. Sunset Magazine rates it one of the best in the U.S. for its authentic emphasis.
The Festival was started in 1961 by Dr. Gale Fletchall as a way to save a dying town. Downtown businesses were closing up, as the new Interstate 5, which bypassed Junction City, was diverting most of the traffic going through town on Highway 99. It was then that Fletchall began searching for a rallying point for community spirit. He thought a city wide celebration would be ideal, but he was stumped for a theme. He considered and discarded several possibilities before settling on the most obvious, a celebration of the city’s very real but very dormant Scandinavian heritage. He talked the idea over with older Danish residents, and then secured financial backing from the chamber of commerce in May 1961. The first community classes in Scandinavian dancing and singing were organized a few weeks later, and church and civic organizations were persuaded to operate food and craft booths. In August, 1961 the first annual Scandinavian Festival opened in temporary booths in downtown Junction City. Fletchall expected perhaps 2,000 visitors; he got 25,000. Today it is one of Oregon's most popular events.
Since 1961, the city has attracted visitors nationally to the downtown area which is transformed into an old world town for the occasion. Each day of the festival highlights a particular Scandinavian country—Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway.
Vikings march down the street, authentic northern European puppet shows are traditionally themed, colorful costumes are displayed in a fashion show, storytellers and actors highlight Hans Christian Andersen stories, folk dancers perform and instruct, choral and instrumental groups perform, unusual handcrafts such as Hardanger embroidery, bobbin lace, tatted lace, and Rosemaling are displayed and sold among paintings, needlework, and ceramics. There are also language classes and a 10 km run.
Traditional Scandinavian food includes vandbakkelser (chocolate dipped cream puffs), Æbleskiver (apple stuffed pancakes), meatballs, and meat pie.
- Mike O'Brien (August 10, 2007). "Scandinvasion: The Scandinavian Festival in Junction City, just up Highway 99, honors all four Scandinavian countries". Oregon Daily Emerald. Retrieved 2008-03-09.[dead link]
- Karen McCowan (August 11, 2006). "Going Scandinavian". The Register-Guard. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- Alan A. Lew, Ph.D., AICP. "Defining Place Authenticity: My Heritage Can Beat Up Your History". p. 16. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- Scandinavian Festival (official website)