By Roel Godinez – This year’s Vista Viking Festival took place on the 22nd and 23rd of September. For the price of $10, visitors were welcome to enjoy the festivities of this expertly organized recreation of an eighth century Nordic village. Upon entering the fairgrounds, visitors were immediately transported into a magical fantasy land that regaled every Viking enthusiast’s dreams. Volunteers and many of the guests were dressed in full costume, some even carrying blunt weapons, creating an aura of magical realism. There were two stages that were in constant use by bands that followed traditional Nordic styles, with the addition of their own unique twists. Traditional foods such as sausage and meatballs were plentiful, as well as Norwegian fare, like lefse, a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread and krumkake, and a delicious waffle cookie.
Entertainment spilled from this event like mead from a dropped drinking horn. Guests were free to explore the grounds where vendors sold jewelry, clothes, woodworks, and, of course, weapons. Most products were either locally made or imported from the distant lands of Northern Europe. While Viking warriors battled each other in mock duels, the living history encampments battled ignorance with their vast knowledge of the era. Another common theme that surrounded this event was the art of throwing things: Vikings and commoners threw spears, rocks, logs, axes, flaming axes, and, thankfully, not many fits. For the young, the Kidzone offered entertainment such as the Fish Fling and sword and shield painting. For those over 21, an adults only zone was open for drinks.
The Vista Viking Festival was established in 2002 by the Norway Hall; an organization made up of the Sons of Norway, established in 1950, and the Norwegian Fish Club, which was established in 1992. Both groups are dedicated to celebrating their heritage through monthly dinners in which all members attend in full costume and learn to speak the language. The purpose of the very first festival was to raise funds and was incredibly small. Today, the event has become a significant source of income for the Norway Hall as literally thousands gather each year. Its cultural roots and community inclusiveness has also become an incredible asset to the City of Vista.