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To Be Continued

Scandinavian Folk Festival Canceled Due To Virus

The 19th annual Scandinavian Folk Festival that was scheduled to take place at Northwest Arena in July has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event will return in 2021. P-J file photos

The Scandinavian Folk Festival, a traditional midsummer celebration in the Jamestown area, is the latest event to be canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival was scheduled to take place July 17, 18 and 19 at Northwest Arena for the first time after previously being held at the Gerry Rodeo Grounds and Jamestown Community College. Swelling temperatures during last year’s event prompted the festival’s organizers — the American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation — to seek an indoor option.

Preservation of Scandinavian culture is the festival’s emphasis, with plenty of local roots in Scandinavian ancestry.

The cancellation on what would have been the 19th annual iteration was a difficult one to make.

“We had 30-something people coming from Sweden that are not coming now,” said Scott Axelson, festival spokesman. “If you look at our demographic and everything else, it was in the best interest of everybody and also in the best interest of the festival from a financial standpoint.”

The event is expected to take place as planned July 16, 17 and 18 at Northwest Arena in 2021. Festival activities — including axe throwing and the decoration of the midsummer pole — are designed to preserve and pass along traditions from one generation to another.

Axelson said organizers plan to host a Scandinavian culture day at some point in the fall. “Again, we don’t know if COVID is going to mess everything up,” he said. “It could change, but there is going to be a one-day event to be determined at a location to be determined — probably at Jamestown Community College.”

The festival is just the latest in a long list of local events that have fallen victim to the pandemic.

“It’s heartbreaking to see some longstanding events being canceled this year,” Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said. “I think going forward this could be an opportunity for events and organizations to reinvent themselves.”

The mayor said city officials have looked at ways to accommodate changes brought on by the virus, including offering more sidewalk seating, bringing food trucks downtown and offering a uniform public market.

“This pandemic is now giving us the opportunity to just rethink the way we do things in the city,” he said.

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