Come rain or shine, the local organizations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland represent many special traditions at the 25th annual Milwaukee area Scandinavian Festival on October 3, 2015. Celebrating many Scandinavian traditions makes it very special, especially when some may be stronger among us in the U.S. than they are in their home countries.

The Nordic Council of Milwaukee has arranged the indoor (no worries about the weather!) Scandinavian Festival since 1991, bringing together the local organizations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. There is a local organization of Iceland, too — the US Icelandic Horse Congress — but due to its nature it has been difficult to bring their specialty (the Icelandic horse) to the festival.
As a bigger group we are more successful together, with each country well represented in many ways. We feel a togetherness that makes us strong. A little bit of Viking is in everyone, and it's fun to see "old country" men and women with whom we have so much in common, even though there are borders between the countries.

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Nordic entertainment
All the entertainment is Nordic, and each country takes turns bringing in the headliner artist or group, while local talent performs folk dancing and other music. This year, the headliner entertainment is ABBA Salute from Chicago. They will represent Sweden and the great tunes of ABBA at two performances: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
There are plenty of vendors selling Scandinavian favorites such as handknit mittens, hats, scarves and sweaters, textiles, T-shirts, decorative pieces in crystal, china, pewter, wood and iron, Christmas decorations, calendars, books (especially children's), arts, crafts, toys and more.
It wouldn’t be a festival if there wasn’t food, and there is always plenty! It's all perfectly planned so you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even snacks in between, while you shop or listen and watch the entertainment.

Something for everyone
The Swedish Linde Lodge 492 (Vasa Order of America) offers Swedish pancake plates with lingon and knäckebröd, or Swedish meatball plates also with lingon and knäckebröd, or a combo plate. The Danish Sisterhood always comes through with their fabulous aebelskiver, Danish kringle or Seven Sisters bakery, and this year they've added frikadeller and medisterkorv on a stick. The Finnish American Society proudly serves and sells their famous makkara and pula. And the local Sons of Norway Fosselyngen group offers their specialties: open-faced sandwiches, lefse, rosettes or other cookies. There may even be Big Olaf’s Super Ice cream cones. Of course coffee is sold as are water and soda. (Sorry, no snaps!)
The festival has a group of very talented folks who help with genealogy research in the Nordic countries, and a special children’s area is always set up — they even have a parade with instruments and dancing — and there is an authentic Saami Lavuu Exhibit (Sami tent). A Rosemaling demonstration and a great raffle with many nice prizes top it all off.
To make this both a cultural and community event we encourage guests to bring a non-perishable food item for a price reduction on adult admission. All items collected will benefit a local food pantry.

The 2015 Scandinavian Festival takes place on October 3, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ronald Reagan Elementary School, 4225 S. Calhoun Rd., New Berlin, WI 53151. $8/adults ($7/pre-sale or with a non-perishable food item), $2/ages 4-12.

For more info, see www.nordiccouncil.com

By Liza Ekstrand