30 minutes outside of Eugene sits a small town with a rich cultural history.
Junction City was founded in part by Danish-American farmers in 1902. Scandinavian culture has always been a large part of the town’s heritage, and they celebrate that with an annual festival.
For four days every August, Junction City holds its Scandinavian Fest which began in 1961.
At the festival, each day focuses on a specific country associated with Scandinavia. Thursday was Finnish Day, Friday was Norwegian Day, Saturday was Swedish Day and Sunday was Danish Day.
Mathew Nelson, the President of the Junction City Scandinavian Festival Association, was looking forward to almost six decades of cultural celebration. “Whether you come for a day or for the whole weekend, we’re delighted to welcome you to our family,” he said.
At the festival, there were informative magazines that included a map, schedule of events and fun facts about the event for participants to better understand the history.
A volunteer board of 12 directors meet year-round to plan the event, taking only a short break after the festival.
Over the four days, the festival featured live music and authentic dancing. One folk group called Savijalakesed, also known as The Joyful Ensemble, came all the way from Estonia, and took the stage on Saturday afternoon. Adorned in traditional Scandinavian clothes, the 20 dancers performed a series of routines in front of a large Nordic mural to music from a live band.
There were many booths for traditional Scandinavian cuisine throughout the streets of downtown Junction City. At one vendor, a large line formed early and stayed busy throughout the day for Æbelskive, a spherical pancake typically served with jam, honey or lemon curd.
Other fare included bratwurst, lingonberry pies and smoothies and frites (a special kind of potato chip or french fry).
In the town’s community center, visitors could walk around, exploring local art. One artist, Brian Benson, crafted Swedish fish out of stained glass during the festival.
Art is one of the most celebrated aspects of the event. This year, participants could explore an interactive activity— painting their own Dala horse ornament in a traditional style.
The Scandinavian Festival can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is an event for the whole family, and an interactive way to educate festival-goers on the rich history of Scandinavian culture.