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Advice from the Skandia Midsommarfest Guru

Dear Readers,

Got a question for the Guru? Please send it to guru@skandia-folkdance.org or leave a message on the Skandia phone at (425) 954-5262 by April 8th and watch for a response in the next update.

Glad Midsommar Guru


Hey Guru!

I didn’t sign up to volunteer earlier because I thought I was going to be out of town. Is it too late now?

Volunteer come lately

Dear Come lately,

Thanks for asking because it’s never too late to volunteer! There’s lots to be done for set-up on Saturday, with help needed on Sunday with making flower crowns, working in the children’s booth, and greeting/selling buttons to Midsommarfest guests. Plus, there’s the whole clean-up effort that gets underway at the end of the day. For that matter, even after the festival, there will be more volunteering opportunities when we have to move our materials out of the building in September. All you have to do is show up on Saturday, email volunteer@skandia- folkdance.org, or call Elaine Everitt at (206) 486-5406.


Dear Guru,

I’m relatively new and heard something about a “Top Ten List” for Midsommarfest. What’s that about? The work to be done?

Inquiring mind wants to know

Dear Inquiring,

Ah, yes. That list was created a few years ago to describe all the wonderful things about Midsommarfest. It’s still valid today, so here it is.

Top Ten Ways to Have the Most Fun at Midsommarfest

10. Arrive early to make sure you can take advantage of the free parking on the grass. Carpool, if at all possible, so more people have a chance to attend. Once the parking lot is full, the rangers will stop letting any more cars into the park.

9. Wear a folk costume—regardless of whether you’ll be performing. Why? Because it makes the event more festive. Plus, you qualify to follow the garland in the Grand Midsommar Procession.

8. Bring along whatever you might need to deal with Mother Nature—ideally, sunscreen to avoid getting burned or an umbrella as a backup sunshade. (If Mother Nature decides to misbehave, there will be ponchos available for sale at the Skandia booth.)

7. Bring a blanket, lawn chair, or whatever will allow you to be comfortable watching performances, especially during the Pole Raising! By the way, Skandia also rents chairs from the park to provide extra seating.

6. Bring your camera to take advantage of a photo op with the signpost, or perhaps the trolls, the dancers, Vikings, or...

5. See what all the vendors have to offer so you don’t miss that special item you might want.

4. Volunteer to help in whatever way you can—the week before cutting greens and ivy, Saturday doing setup, Sunday morning final setup, Sunday during the event, and/or clean-up Sunday evening. It would be great if you could sign up in advance by sending an email to volunteer@skandia-folkdance.org or calling Elaine Everitt at (206) 486-5406. Remember, there’s a dance at the park on Saturday evening for volunteers from 7 to 9 (also free).

3. Make a contribution to help cover expenses and keep the festival free in the future. A contribution of $2 (or more) will get you a special Midsommarfest Button while supplies last, so get yours early.

2. Stop by the Skandia Booth to buy a ticket for a flower crown before you head over to the Kukka Kioski to either make your own or buy one.

1. Most important, you just have to be there to take it all in—from the wonderful performances starting at 11 in the morning, to the Kids’ Pole Raising at 1:30, to the Main Event from 2:30 to 3:30, to the participatory dancing and more performances after the pole raising, to watching kids (of all ages) enjoy all activities in the Kids’ Area, to taking the pole down and enjoying the camaraderie of clean-up at the end.


Hey guru!

When and where was the first Midsommarfest? How did it get started?

—History buff

Dear Buffy,

Celebrations of the summer solstice actually date back to a pre-Christian era, evolving over time in different regions of Europe. Skandia’s presentation of Midsommarfest comes from traditions practiced in Sweden for centuries.

The first Skandia Midsommarfest was held in June 1959 at the Scandia Gaard farmstead in Gig Harbor on Puget Sound. Gordon Ekvall Tracie, Skandia’s founder and director, sought to re-create a traditional Swedish celebration of the summer solstice in as authentic a manner as possible, complete with the ancient pole-raising ceremony and outdoor dancing. Even though our presentation has also evolved over time, moving from Gig Harbor to Poulsbo and then to Saint Edward in 2001, it has always maintained the key elements of the pole-raising ceremony, dancing, music and food.


Dear Glad Midsommar Guru,

It was great to have Scandinavian Specialties back doing the food at Midsommarfest last year. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll be back this year. Any news?

—Scandinavian Specialties Foodie

Dear SS Foodie,

Good news! They’ve already signed up to handle the food again this year. Enjoy!


Dear Readers,

Although we won’t have barista coffee service, we will have members of the Friends of Saint Edward State Park making sure that brewed coffee is available at Midsommarfest. They won’t be charging, but will appreciate any donation you can make, as the group is a very small non-profit working to promote and benefit the park. If you’ve noticed the historical information signs around the park, those were donated by the Friends group. The Friends group also purchased the electric golf cart for park staff use.


Hey Guru!

I’m concerned about how things are going to go on Sunday evening when we’re trying to clean up the park and have to haul everything to a new place. Couldn’t we at least put it back in the building at the end of the event and then have a “moving party” another day?

Thinking ahead Dear Thinker,

Putting things back in the building, at least temporarily, sounds like a great idea. Better yet, State Parks is willing to let us do that. At this point, we will have to have things moved out of the building no later than September, but it should make for an easier transition. We’re also still looking into storage alternatives for the future.


Dear Glad Midsommar Guru,

This is my first year of hearing about and planning to attend Skandia’s Midsommarfest. What is the significance of the pole raising? I think it’s referred to as a majstång. Why is that?

First timer

Dear First timer,

The short answer, with regard to Skandia’s event, is that Skandia founder and director Gordon Ekvall Tracie aimed to re-create a traditional Scandinavian celebration of the summer solstice in as authentic a manner as possible, complete with the ancient pole-raising ceremony and outdoor dancing, as practiced in Sweden for centuries. The pole is referred to as a majstång because it is decorated with greenery and flowers. Now that you’ve asked the question, perhaps other long-time Skandia members will offer additional insights that can be included in the next newsletter


Dear Guru,

I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again... because I really do love my coffee. Will coffee be available at Midsommarfest this year?

Coffee lover

Dear Coffee lover,

Yes. There will be coffee. However, it is still unknown whether it will be served by a barista or brewed by volunteers. Our hardworking vendor coordinator, Penny Curtis, is still working hard on this one. Perhaps a better answer will be available in the next newsletter.


Dear Guru,
I’ve been hearing bits and pieces in the news about Saint Edward State Park being sold and turned into a hotel. Is that true? What’s going to happen to Skandia’s Midsommarfest?

Worried Midsommarfest fan

Dear Worried,
There are bits of both truth and fiction in what you’ve heard. To get the whole story, I recommend reading the details on the State Park website: http://parks.state.wa.us/857/Saint-Edward-Planning-Seminary. However, here are some highlights.


Hey Guru!
I missed the meeting at Kenmore City Hall where they were taking testimony. I’d like to have my thoughts included in the deliberations, but I don’t live in Kenmore. Would whoever “they” are still be interested in my comments?

Wants to comment

Dear Wants to comment,
Yes. Thanks for asking. It’s easy to see how it might appear that “they” are the City of Kenmore, or that one must live in Kenmore because the Park is within Kenmore boundaries and requires permitting from the City. However, the decision about what happens next with the Park will be made by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission—followed by a decision by the federal National Parks Service. That said, the State Parks Commission is still taking comments online at http://parks.state.wa.us/FormCenter/Planning-6/Public-Comment-65.



Here are some repeat questions, because they come up a lot.

Dear Glad Midsommar Guru,
How can I check out the schedule in advance, so I don’t miss the performances I really want to see?

Performer Fan

Dear Performer Fan,
Your best bet is to check the Skandia website http://www.skandia-folkdance.org/midsommarfest.html. Below the description of Midsommarfest activities, there are a number of links, including one for the program as well as links to the Ringlekar tunes that are danced immediately following the pole raising.

 



Dear Guru,
Would you please let me know about parking for the event. Will parking be free at Saint Edward State Park? Will there be shuttles provided? Thank you kindly for your reply! I’m so excited to attend the Midsommarfest event.

Planning Ahead

Dear Planning Ahead,
The Guru is delighted to hear you are so excited about coming to Midsommarfest this year. The good news is that parking for our festival attendees is free. State Parks allows us to park our guests’ vehicles on the grass, so no shuttles are needed. We do ask folks to carpool, if possible, to make best use of the available parking spaces. The regular parking lots still require Discover Passes for visitors to other areas in the park

 


Dear Midsommar Guru,
I read in the newsletter about Midsommarfest needing donations, but it didn’t say where to send the money! Can you enlighten me? Tak så mycket!

Willing to Contribute

Dear Willing,
What a great question for the Guru! Once you’ve written that all-important check made out to Skandia Folkdance Society, with the memo line noting it is for Midsommarfest, you can mail it to Skandia Folkdance Society, P.O. Box 17123, Seattle, WA 98127-0823, or give it to the cashier at any Skandia event. Skandia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so contributions may be tax-deductible. Thanks for asking!



Top ten ways to have the most fun at Midsommarfest

10. Arrive early to make sure you can take advantage of the free parking on the grass. Carpool, if at all possible, so more people have a chance to attend. Once the parking lot is full, the rangers will stop letting any more cars into the park.

9. Wear a folk costume—regardless of whether you’ll be performing. Why? Because it makes the event more festive. Plus, you qualify to follow the garland in the Grand
Midsommar Procession.

8. Bring along whatever you might need to deal with Mother Nature—ideally, sunscreen to avoid getting burned, or an umbrella as a back-up sunshade. (If Mother Nature decides to misbehave, there will be ponchos available for sale at the Skandia booth.)

7. Bring a blanket, lawn chair, or whatever will allow you to be comfortable watching performances, especially during the Pole Raising! By the way, Skandia also rents chairs from the park to provide extra seating.

6. Bring your camera to take advantage of a photo op with the signpost, or perhaps the trolls, the dancers, the Vikings, or...

5. See what all the vendors have to offer, so you don’t miss that special item you might want.

4. Volunteer to help in whatever way you can—the week before cutting greens and ivy, Saturday doing set-up, Sunday morning final set-up, Sunday during the event, and/or clean up Sunday evening. It would be great if you could sign up in advance by sending an email to volunteer@skandia-folkdance.org or calling Elaine Everitt at (206) 486-5406. Remember, there’s a dance at the park on Saturday evening for volunteers from 7 to 9 (also free).

3. Make a contribution to help cover expenses and keep the festival free in the future. A contribution of $2 (or more) will get you a special Midsommarfest button while supplies last, so get yours early.

2. Stop by the Skandia Booth to buy a ticket for a flower crown before you head over to the Kukka Kioski to either make your own or buy one.

1. Most importantly, you just have to be there to take it all in—from the wonderful performances starting at 11 in the morning to the Kids’ Pole Raising at 1:30, to the Main Event from 2:30 to 3:30, to the participatory dancing and more performances after the pole raising, to watching kids (of all ages) enjoy all activities in the Kids’ Area, to taking the pole down and enjoying the camaraderie of clean up at the end.

—Elaine Everit