Eat, drink and be merry.

Each year, you can tell when Kingsburg’s Swedish Festival is drawing near.  The pristine city shines even brighter as new Swedish and American flags are installed on the downtown’s Draper Street, poles are painted, every ounce of litter removed.    The festival attracts visitors from far and wide.  Even foreign tourists come for this three-day event. Over the past 56 years, the heritage of Kingsburg is celebrated.  The festivities have changed, but one thing hasn’t changed; it’s steeped in highlighting the Swedish culture that has shaped the city into what it is today.

This year, it begins on Thursday, May 19 with the traditional Pea Soup and Swedish Pancake Supper.  In Sweden children are provided free meals.  On Thursdays, they are served pea soup with a pancake for dessert.  Generally speaking, Swedes think it odd that Americans consider pancakes a breakfast food.  Dinner will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Draper Street with Swedish entertainment and the crowning of the Swedish Festival Queen included.

On Friday, May 20 festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with the Public Safety Officer Dress Review & Award Ceremony, followed by an authentic Swedish Dinner consisting of Swedish meatballs in white sauce, pickled herring, potato sausages, rice pudding, lingonberries and much more.  These events will include Swedish entertainment and will be held in the Coffee Pot Park until 8 p.m.

On Saturday, May 21 the town comes alive at 7 a.m. with the Dala Horse Trot and the Swedish Pancake Breakfast at Coffee Pot Park.  Don’t let the long breakfast line be a discouragement, the Lions Club has organized the breakfast for maximum efficiency.   The City’s Dala Trolley will be shuttling folks to the Historical Park from 9 am to 3 pm.  The 1923 Historic Train Depot will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., festival food vendors and arts & craft vendors will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Opening Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the Grand Parade beginning at 10:30 a.m.  Over the last two years, the parade route has changed.  It now circles Draper Street with the announcing stand being in front of the Senior Center at 1450 Ellis Street.

The last entry in the parade is the freshly decorated traditional Swedish maypole.  It is carried throughout the parade route and then taken to Draper Street to be erected for the duration of the festival.  As it makes its way, it is customary for festival goers to follow the maypole and when it’s set, to dance around it.    The origin of the maypole is thought to be from around AD 1350 as a celebration of the return of warm weather.

There will be food vendors on Smith Street, except for the Swedish food vendors; they have a special area on Draper Street with all the arts & crafts vendors.  Brandon Palsgaard is one of the Swedish Street Food vendors on Draper Street.  He sells potatis korv (potato sausage).  He offers a variety of special sausages using recipes that require three days to prepare.   Better get here right away as he always sells out.

The arts & crafts vendors will include broom making, spinning and weaving demonstrations, Swedish children’s games with prizes, face painting, and Scandinavian t-shirts.  Entertainment will include Swedish dancers and musicians throughout the day on Draper Street.   At 1 p.m. a gospel quartet will be in concert at the Kingsburg Community church, 1532 Ellis Street. The day wraps up at 8 p.m. with a musical tribute sing-along to the Swedish pop group ABBA at Memorial Park.

Kingsburg’s iconic June Hess has served on the Swedish Festival Committee since 1985.  Her shop, Svensk Butik is located at 1465 Draper Street.  The maypole will be erected directly in front.  Svensk Butik is famous for being packed full of fun and fascinating Swedish items, primarily imported from Sweden.  While many festival goers don their Swedish garb during the three days, June wears Swedish outfits each day her shop is open.  It would be difficult to live in Kingsburg and not know who she is.  Multiple generations of her family have been instrumental in preserving the City’s Swedish heritage and she is an excellent source of information on Swedish culture and Kingsburg history. 

Steve Safarjian, owner of RPS Real Estate, has served on the Swedish Festival Committee since 1974, making him the longest serving member. 

Safarjian said, “It is my opinion that festivals are not to make a lot of money on a captive audience but rather, to showcase a way of life that Kingsburg has to offer.  A great place to live, raise a family, work, shop and enjoy life.”

For more information regarding the Swedish Festival contact the Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce at 559-897-1111.  

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