GERRY - I'm not Nordic, but part of me almost felt like I was upon visiting the annual Scandinavian Folk Festival this weekend.
While not exactly Nordic weather, there were enough cultural decorations and festival-goers in elaborate traditional outfits to transform the Gerry rodeo grounds into a mini-Scandinavia for the third year. There were traditional foods, crafts and music everywhere I turned. Naturally, I immediately gravitated toward the food. Feeling adventurous, I decided to try a "Norm Owen's famous Korv burger" for the first time. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it (I have a notoriously limited taste palate). I later learned that Norm's burger was a popular delicacy.
"Lots of people have never had one, then they come back for a second one," said Norm Owen himself, president of the American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation.
Don and Dane Reed practice their carving skills.
P-J photos by Nicholena Moon
I also tasted some Swedish meatballs, of which I have always been a fan.
Next I ducked under the "Made in Jamestown" tent and admired a number of vendor's items. From there I moved on to the crafting tent, where several adults and children were hard at work on various projects. One table filled with wood carvings caught my eye in particular.
Don Reed has been practicing traditional Scandinavian wood carving for quite some time - 12 years, in fact. He learned the art through the Scandinavian studies program at Jamestown Community College, which he now helps to instruct. The class meets on the first Saturday of every month from October through May.
"It's chip carving, it's a traditional Scandinavian style of carving, a European method of decorating household objects," he said, describing his project as he worked.
Sitting next to him, Dane Reed worked on carving a cup.
"That's carving in the round, what he's doing, or character carving," Don said.
Beyond the Reeds' table, lively polka music filled the air.
"We have quite a schedule," said Owen about the festival's 11th year. "We're pleased with that."
Indeed, the schedule is jam-packed with dancers and musicians from all areas, including a Bluegrass band straight from Sweden. That's good news for the 3,000 to 3,500 visitors it will draw. Festival-goers last year came from 28 states, and 144 people came from five different foreign countries.
"We have a great backbone, or we couldn't keep it going," Owen said, speaking of the 350 volunteers the festival has. Proceeds from the festival go toward several charities, including St. Susan soup kitchen and the Roger Tory Petersen Institute.
"We try to be involved in the community," Owen said.