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PUBLISHED: 5:20 PM on Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Vikings prepare for annual Petersburg invasion
Annual festival turns 50 this year
Viking and Valkyries will once again invade Petersburg May 15-18 to celebrate the town's 50th anniversary of the Little Norway Festival.

The annual event, once held exclusively to celebrate Petersburg's Norwegian heritage and the 1814 signing of Norway's constitution on May 17 (Syttende Mai), has expanded in recent years and now includes celebrations of U.S. Armed Forces Day and the beginning of the fishing season.


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  History gave vikings a bad rap. The ones that invade Petersburg like parades and posing for photographs, not to mention the dancing and authentic cuisine.
The festivities kick off on May 15 with a Viking Feast, art classes and Muskeg Nature Walk, courtesy of the U.S. Forrest Service. The following day features a parade, concession and craft booths, music, Scandinavian Bunad Show (traditional Norwegian attire) and a smorgasbord that will satisfy even the hungriest of Vikings. Dishes include Alaskan native dishes and Norwegian delicacies.

Saturday and Sunday (May 17-18) offer even more dinner, dance, arts and crafts, Coast Guard tours and a kids 'Dolly Fishing Derby.

Since the event's inception in 1958 the Little Norway Festival has become one of Southeast Alaska's most popular and highly attended annual events.

But beware: roaming Viking and Valkyries dressed in furs are always on the prowl for unsuspecting tourists, stirring up light-hearted mischief at every turn. If you're encountered by one try bribing them with a beer.

History of the festival


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Bernadine Trones and Alma Wallen, both from Petersburg, chaired the first Little Norway Festival 50 years ago as a way of celebrating Petersburg's unique Norwegian heritage.

Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian native, first sailed to what is now the north end of Mitkof Island in the late 19th century. Due to the close proximity of the LeConte Glacier and bountiful fishing nearby, Buschmann used it as the location of a new cannery. In 1897 construction of the Icy Straights Packing Co. began, with Buschmann managing it. Icy Straights Packing Co. evolved into Petersburg Fisheries Inc. and is now the largest seafood processor in town.

During the early 20th century a sawmill was established and docks, homes, warehouses and other businesses were the built by friends and family of Buschmann who followed him to Petersburg. Petersburg residents still proudly boast of their Norwegian heritage. Many can trace their family tree back to Buschmann.

For more information about the Little Norway Festival visit www.petersburg.org.


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