Scandinavian Fair offers a glimpse of Nordic life
A poster with the words “Lefse is for lovers!” hangs above a man flipping what appear to be tortillas while attendees are continuously corrected that they’re not. Across the room, an older man sporting a Viking helmet with two blond braids descending from its ridges hands out butter-soaked cod — also known as lutefisk — from his crockpot.
This is just a glimpse of what transpired at the third annual Scandinavian Fair, which took place March 27 at the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. The event featured flower paintings (or rosemaling), lefse — bread made from potatoes and fried on a pan at 500 degrees — made by the hundreds, and 200 pounds of Swedish meatballs. Three years ago, members of the Nordic Pines Sons of Norway Lodge (NPSNL), a group with more than 80 members, organized the fair to promote Scandinavian culture in northern Arizona.
“I come from a part of the country where Scandinavian culture is very well-known, but here in northern Arizona, not so much,” said Rebekah Nordstrom, co-chair of the Scandinavian Fair. “I wanted to bring Scandinavian culture to northern Arizona to educate people of the beauty and uniqueness of [this] culture.”
To provide an authentic Scandinavian Fair, two dozen vendors from Yuma, Tucson, Phoenix and California were contacted and asked to travel to Flagstaff for the annual event.
These vendors brought original Swedish paintings, books, rosemaling and lefse. They also hosted many demonstrations showcasing Nordic culture.
Over the course of six hours, more than 525 people attended the Scandinavian Fair. Along with these guests, the event featured 50 volunteers and 24 vendors.
Kris Graven, co-chair of the Scandinavian Fair and president of the NPSNL, said the meatball lunch is her favorite part of the Scandinavian Fair, and more than 200 lunches were sold at the previous year’s fair. The meatball lunch is the major fundraiser for the NPSNL.
“[It] helps support the [Nordic Pines Lodge’s] social and cultural events of the year,” Graven said. “These [events] are almost always free and include speakers, musicians, movies, picnics, lefse-making and a Christmas smörgåsbord.”
In addition to the meatball-lunch fundraiser, this year’s fair added one more aspect to the Nordic-themed event — canned-food donations.
“We decided to add the canned-food drive as a way to give back to the community,” Graven said. “We have started to do this for all of our events.”
Kevin Nolan, Flagstaff resident and first-time attendee of the Scandinavian Fair, said he attended the event on a whim but enjoyed learning about Scandinavian culture.
“The meatballs were good, the people were friendly and the topic was interesting,” Nolan said. “They had everything I hoped they would have: wooden shoes and ‘Uff da!’ magnets.”
Graven said next year’s plans consist of making the Scandinavian Fair an even bigger event with even more food.
“We have discussed trying to get a grant so that we could sponsor some good entertainment and perhaps go to a bigger venue,” Graven said. “We definitely know that we need to make more lefse and bring more lutefisk.”