KINGSBURG – Visitors came from around the globe to visit the California city with a Swedish accent for three days of the annual Swedish Festival activities May 16-18 where 2019 has been dubbed the Year of the Dala Horse.
What began as a mid-summer festival put on by women of the Concordia Lutheran Church in 1924 has evolved in to a three-day festival that includes a slice of many aspects of historic life in Sweden including Swedish music, Swedish dancing, Swedish games, Swedish meals, Swedish crafts and Swedish descendants.
This is the 89th year of the Festival and the Kingsburg Chamber has sponsored the activities since 1966. The events included pea soup and Swedish pancake meals, a Public Safety Officer Dress Review and Awards Ceremony, new firetruck wet down ceremony, smorgasbord, Swedish entertainment by the Svenska Kids Musik, Fresno Danish Dancers and music by Fresno’s Great Danes, the Dala Horse Trot race, a grand parade, raising of the May pole, sanctuary tours at Kingsburg Concordia and tours at the Historic Train Depot and Historic Museum.
A highlight of the Festival included the crowning of the 2019 Swedish Festival Queen Jasmin Gallardo, 17, a junior at Kingsburg High. She’s sung the Swedish National Anthem at the Santa Lucia parade, performs with Kingsburg High’s Jazz Choir and is involved in swim and cheer. Her goal is to become an elementary school teacher.
This year’s Grand Marshals were Maury and Pauline Nyberg who have been involved with Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce activities and festivals and church activities with both the Holy Family Catholic Church and The Orchard Bible Fellowship Church.
What makes the Swedish Festival unique is that it is genuinely Swedish since so many participants are direct descendants of settlers who originally hailed from the Nordic country.
One of those genuine Swedish residents is Mindy Bishop who was demonstrating how to make a rag rung on a large weaving loom on Draper Street.
“It was made in Sweden,” she said of the large, wooden structure. “I think my mom bought it from an antique dealer.” Bishop demonstrated how the loom worked and said she enjoyed how colorful the event is, the good food and being able to share the weaving demonstration with visitors.
“Not very many people know about crafts like this,” she said.
Another popular draw were all the food and vendor booths, aside from the shops and eateries already Downtown.
New this year was Mats Hellgren and his family’s Swedish food booth, Käka (pronounced roughly as sha-kaw), which means to grub or to eat.
Since Hellgren used to work as a chef for “20 seasons at a summer resort” in Sweden and has been catering Swedish dinners at Colony Covenant Church, it seemed only natural that he would offer some dishes during Swedish Festival.
On the menu was a Swedish burrito of sorts, tunnbrödrulle with meatballs with mashed potatoes and gravy, lingonberries and cucumber; fika, which included Zoéga coffee with variety of Swedish baked goods; and sill mackan, an open-faced herring sandwich on dark rye bread with boiled egg, cheese and pickled red onion.
“There are some Swedes here travelling from other places and we have some following on Facebook. The word’s spreading around,” he said of the interest in the cultural food. “Other people are just curious and think it’s a strange burrito,” he said of some of the items on the menu that day.
Hellgren said he liked how much more participation there seemed to be this year with more floats in the grand parade and the sight of Viking ships - the Boy Scouts’ float - sailing down Draper Street.
Swedish Festival also included a Flower and Garden show coordinated by For The Birds gift shop. Look for results of that competition in next week’s Enterprise Recorder.