Raaaaaaa… nier…… Viking Festival (for those who remember the old Rainier Beer commercials). This past weekend the rollicking good Northwest Viking Festival was held in the town of Rainier, Washington… past Yelm… not quite to Tenino.
I believe this was the first annual Viking festival in Wilkowski Park. Admission was free but event organizers encouraged attendees to bring donations for the local food banks.
On a windy Sunday my horde and I did go. Upon arrival we found the Evil Frog Totem (or at least we called it that). I suppose it could have been an ancient billboard for a Norse chiropractor as well.
From the main road it looked like there were just a few vendors and a limp bouncy castle (it was inflated later), but amongst the trees were a delightful assortment of vendors and activities.
There were also tents showcasing how our Viking brethren would have lived before we invented IKEA and Marimekko.
What really stood out to me at vendor stalls was the beautiful leather work. I ooed and awed, then a costumed kid walked by yelling, “it’s time to skin the beaver!!” “Was that a game?” I thought. One of my companions replied, “No, look, it’s a dead beaver.” And there the poor beaver was, sprawled on a table, dead as a doornail. Couldn’t do it. Had to move on.
More pieces of beautifully crafted dead animal. I do wear leather; I guess the ancestral genes that influence us to make our own leather escaped me.
And then, the village blacksmith. His work was fascinating to watch. I don’t know how he could stand the heat though. It was hot where we were standing outside the corral. I had to check to be sure I still had eyebrows.
That’s the sound of a man… working on the chain… maAil… Actually, he was making a stabber of some kind. Whether a rapier or marshmallow stick, I don’t know.
Strolling along, I was greeted by Mr. Cute, a very kind dog whose breed or actual name I don’t remember. His owner said he was so calm because he’d been coming to such events his whole life.
Why yes they do.
Marvelous swords and a wiggy hammer. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme in which “they all lived together in a little crooked house.”
This gorgeous horse is Night. He is 27 years young and his person says he’s the mascot for the local senior center.
As I petted Night, this nearby well-coiffed horse said, “Pay attention to me!”
Excitement was brewing around the Ozark Trail (chair).
Here is definitive proof that Vikings engage in commerce with Romans. Also note the 750W massage throne.
Dear Santa: I want one of these for work.
Oops he did it again.
Tools of the trade. When I remarked that I’d like to crawl into this bed in this airy tent and take a nap, its owner said he discourages unauthorized bed use by setting sharp things on it.
The Chicken Man himself hauls a load of fluid-infused projectiles towards the trebuchets.
Catapults? Trebuchets? I’m not entirely sure. But my closest companion and I discussed all the ridiculous things we could use one for. It became readily apparent that we probably shouldn’t have one.
Here was a stone carver from Seattle. I suggested to my group that we could go into business making grave markers and that went over like a lead zeppelin.
A shopping cart with watermelons? Next to a catapult? Yes please.
The Earl and Lady of Kattegat finally occupied their perches to observe the festivities.
Young volunteers were fitted with shields and weapons downrange of the catapults. The one on the left couldn’t have too many shields. Shield wall!!
Note the arrival of the black balloons. They turned out to be more durable than the multicolored water bombs.
3, 2, 1, launch!
The daring crowd of defenders grew.
From my perspective I couldn’t figure out what type of fur this was. It seemed to be a whole animal with very short appendages. I said, “oh no, he killed a giant platypus!” It turned out to be elk, which was more apparent from the front view. This photo presented a paradox; ancient garb versus modern technology.
We learned that most of the fighting had taken place on Saturday. Here two kids got medieval in the round.
This was a great family activity. Some Viking festivals are overtly pagan to the point of being a religious event; that wasn’t our experience. People were friendly, with a local realtor and her precious deaf dog handing out free water at the entrance. They actually talk to strangers in Rainier. I’m more used to Greater Seattle culture in which people don’t say excuse me or use their turn signals and where many people show great discomfort if a stranger speaks to them.
In the restroom a little girl was screaming at her mother that she didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I told her I’d have been spanked if I talked to my mother like that. She did get a swat on her backside. I rarely see parents take control like that in my own biome. Instead they yell at the kids to comply but don’t back up their words, so the kids persist. Score more points for Rainier.
We did have a jaw-droppingly rude experience on the way out. A vendor had the biggest birdcage I’d ever seen for sale. I’d joked that you could put people inside it and then realized that wasn’t funny. But it was great for birds. A family member offered the vendor $20 and he said, “sold!”
Next thing I knew, a short, stout woman in a bright pink shirt was preparing to take away the birdcage. Confused, I asked the vendor, “what just happened?” After he’d told my relative “sold!”, the newcomer had said she’d pay $40 for it. The vendor grinned as he talked about the $40. I was aghast, especially since we were celebrating a birthday. It had happened so quickly that I don’t think I’d heard the woman barge in.
I stood on the sidelines while the woman took the top off the cage and found someone to help her move it. She did not apologize or bat an eyelash. The vendor didn’t either. I should have had the presence of mind to chip in my own $20 and buy it out from under the rude woman, but decided a vendor like that probably doesn’t deserve our business anyway. He probably wasn’t from Rainier.
Overall this was a fun day. I wish we could have left the festival on a more positive note but that was not the festival’s fault. This event will likely grow and I hope more interactive activities occur on both days, not primarily on Saturday. By next year I hope to have my “Straight Outta Asgard” t-shirt or a faux beaver ensemble complete with tooled leather accessories that I didn’t witness being made.
Thank you, Rainier, for using this great event for fun, charity, and education!
When the age of the Vikings came to a close, they must have sensed it. Probably, they gathered together one evening, slapped each other on the back and said, “Hey, good job.” –Jack Handey
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One thought on “Vikings Take Wilkowski!”
Hooray for the Vikings! I think they did invent IKEA, right?!!