GREEN BAY – The Vikings are coming, and there will be more.
The first Viking Festival which moved to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay last year returns this weekend with a new name, an expanded schedule from one day to two and more than double the number of artists and performers in demonstration.
Sorry, still no Hollywood hokey horn helmets and certainly none of those purple-clad Vikings across the border from Minnesota who looted and plundered the Packers’ season opener.
The Midwest Viking Festival, as it’s now known, aims to give visitors an authentic look at Scandinavian history and culture by transforming the grounds outside the university’s Viking House replica into an encampment. viking on Friday and Saturday.
Sixty artist demonstrators from across the country will be at work as blacksmiths, goldsmiths, potters, beadmakers, carpenters, weavers, archers and cooks. Some will tell stories. Others will fight. Young children will play medieval games like kubb and hnefatafl.
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“I think people who come to a Viking festival think they’re going to see men with swords and armor. We show all aspects of daily life a thousand years ago, which of course means women and children and how people would live,” said Heidi Sherman, associate professor of history at UWGB and director of the Viking House.
“It’s really kind of disillusioning or challenging the stereotype that Vikings are just big, stupid brutes. We’re showing a bit more of a sophisticated angle of Vikings, medieval Norse. I just think it intrigues people. people. We’re not trying to perpetuate or break a stereotype. We’re just trying to educate in a gentle, Viking way.
Last year’s event, the first such Viking festival in Wisconsin, featured 25 costumed re-enactors and drew about 500 people on a Saturday with limited advance planning. Sherman is expecting several thousand this year as it makes the jump to the Midwest Viking Festival and draws from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota.
The Clay County Historical and Cultural Society in Moorhead, Minnesota, has hosted the annual Midwest Viking Festival since 2008. When it decided to go in another direction, the coordinator, who is a friend of Sherman’s, asked if the UWGB is reportedly considering becoming the new permanent site for what is the largest Viking festival in the Midwest.
The Viking House, located near Wood Hall on campus, is the anchor for the festivities. Viking re-enactors Owen and Elspeth Christianson constructed the structure in 2011 from Wisconsin white pine and designed it based on meticulous research of building traditions in Norway at the time. It was on their property in Stratford, where they used it for Viking-related events and training, including hosting Viking camp weekends each fall with Sherman and his students. When the couple retired and moved out, they donated the house to the UWGB in 2017.
The Christiansons will give tours of the house during the festival.
The Clay County Historical and Cultural Society is providing a grant to the free festival for the next three years, and Sherman has received a Wisconsin Humanities Major Grant that will also help pay artists who demonstrate.
“It’s a real celebration of education. Our objective is not really reconstruction. It’s about teaching the public about the origins of traditional craftsmanship in Scandinavia through these demonstrations,” Sherman said.
Some of the Vikings will sell books and things they make. Kids can try out archery, traditional Viking lawn games and take part in a Viking quest, traveling through the festival finding different performers and asking each one a question about the age of the Vikings.
Sons of Norway will sell homemade cookies and treats, and two food trucks (Caribbean Cruiser and Bacon Burger Company) were added this year.
Sherman is looking forward to more seasonal temperatures in the 60s this weekend. Last year’s holiday season was warm, especially for the Vikings, who tend to wear a lot of wool.
She hopes people will take the opportunity to learn about Scandinavian heritage, chat with the artists and take a step back in history.
“Once you’re at the festival site, you can’t really see the modern buildings. You see the Weidner Center if you really look. Otherwise, it’s just a hill in front of the house,” Sherman said. “It’s really beautiful for a festival. It just feels like being in another time.
Midwestern Viking Festival
When: 10am-4pm Friday and Saturday
Where: Outside the Viking House at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Take the UWGB main entrance (also the Weidner Center entrance) from Nicolet Drive. Take the first right into the Wood Hall car park and you will see the Viking House on the right.
Schedule of special events (the same on both days): Sven Tunheim tells the Vikings, at 10:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; battle demonstrations, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; folk musician and author Kari Tauring presents “Healing Our Kinship to Nature,” 11:30 a.m.; Tauring presents “Frith and Grith: Divine Female Boundary Setters”, 1:30 p.m. (with a circle dance at the end).