A week-long celebration of Petersburg’s Norwegian culture is underway in the Southeast Alaska community.
It’s the 61st edition of the Little Norway Festival, centered around the 17th of May and the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814. The festival also celebrates the Norwegian pioneers who settled this town as well as Armed Forces Day.
“It’s coming together and it will for sure happen and there will not be anyone out there saying that there wasn’t something that they could do over the course of these four days,” said Petersburg Chamber of Commerce director Mara Lutomski, who is on the committee organizing the festival this year. “Actually it extends all the way back to the previous Saturday. So I would say over the course of eight days, you will have lots of options for things to do here in Petersburg.”
The bulk of the events are Thursday through Sunday. The festival features visiting and local musicians, traditional and non-traditional costumes, a wide variety of foods, contests and educational events. It’s the second year for Ketchikan artist and musician Ray Troll to headline the festival. He’ll be performing with his band the Ratfish Wranglers on Saturday night at the Sons of Norway Hall.
There are also many of the favorites including a herring toss, street booths, classes in traditional painting, a Scandinavian style show and parade on Friday with the festival pageant on Saturday. Lutomski said there are new offerings this year too.
“We have counted up 11 new types of activities or something to do over the course of the festival that are different from last year,” she said. “And last year we had a few new events or revived events, so the festival is growing I suppose.”
For instance, there’s a Greek mythology walking tour on Thursday and Friday and tours of an historic fishing boat on Friday and Saturday.
New events from last year are also back. The police department takes on fire fighters in a fire truck pull on Saturday, professionals from Petersburg Fisheries will demonstrate how to fletch a halibut and there’s the return of the strongman style sled pulling competition. Petersburg’s roller derby team takes on a team from Sitka Friday night.
Joe Viechnicki spoke with festival committee members Mara Lutomski and Mika Hasbrouck about some of the earlier offerings and some of the artwork on display during the festival.
Also scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. in the municipal building is the installation of an artwork from the Decolonizing Alaska show that was on display in Petersburg last fall. The nine-foot long carved and painted red cedar bench is by Ketchikan artists Ray Troll and Donald Varnell with contributions from Nathan Jackson and Delores Churchill as well.
Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers headline the festival on Saturday night at the Sons of Norway Hall. Several local bands and other visiting acts will also be performing throughout the week. Joe Viechnicki spoke with festival committee members Mara Lutomski and Mika Hasbrouck about some of the music on the schedule and other new features of this year’s celebration.
Street booths and the food court are open on main street Friday and Saturday after 10 a.m. There are also 11 new events for visitors and locals to enjoy right into Sunday afternoon. The festival pageant is at a slightly different time on Saturday and there’s also talk of possibly moving the parade to that day in future years. Joe Viechnicki spoke with spoke with festival committee members Mara Lutomski and Mika Hasbrouck about some of the changes and new editions for the week.