Arts and Entertainment

The Armed Viking Festival

Kitsap’s summer festival season is ramping up.

This weekend, the county’s corridors will be flush with fair-goers, both local and abroad, as two of the area’s largest and most esteemed festivals commence at the same time.

In the North End, Poulsbo’s 40-year-old celebration of its Norwegian heritage, the aptly titled Viking Fest, will again fill Little Norway to the brim with horned helmets, chain metal, lutefisk and carnie folk.

While throughout downtown Bremerton, raising the flag for the nation’s original and longest-running Armed Forces Day Festival, America’s servicemen and women, their families and friends will fill the streets, courted by an Army tank, a fighter jet and more marching bands than you would think could possibly fit into a single parade.

Both festivals are, by nature, loaded with special events, music and a whole lot of home cooking over the weekend. And despite their differences in subject matter and ancestry, both festivals actually have quite a bit in common.

There’s even an annual bragging contest simmering, centered around who’s got more marching bands, who’s got the best chef and who’s got the best parade.

This year, What’s Up wanted to look at what it might be like if the festivals cross-pollinated, forming a mega Armed Viking Festival.

It sounds like it could be dangerous at first, but it’s the type of thing that, if anywhere in the world, could probably only be pulled off in Kitsap.

First off, the parade route will have to be extended.

With more than 200 participants annually making up the Armed Forces Day Parade combined with the almost 100 entries slated for this year’s Viking Fest parade, it will need to be something massive.

Something like a cross-county route, beginning on the shores of Poulsbo and ending at the Bremerton boardwalk. The hundred thousands of expected fair-goers could line highways 3 and 303 following the route from city to city.

It may get treacherous around Silverdale for the few dozen high school and middle school marching bands as they lug their instruments up Ridgetop hill, trying to keep the tune of “Louie Louie.” But it’d be worth it, because it might be the biggest parade ever.

Consider, the famed Macy’s Day Parade in New York City is only six-and-a-half miles long. Kitsap’s 20-some-mile Armed Viking Parade would dwarf that.

And just imagine the float combinations.

There’d be Shriners weaving their little cars through the formation of the Sons of Norway Leikarringan dancers, amped-up Vikings in horned helmets and Vikettes in bunads romping around, hyping up the crowd as the M1A1 Abrams tank stoically rolls by.

The Armed Forces Day fighter jet would be quite a sight, flying low overhead, rattling windows on Front Street in Poulsbo, while a burly-type on the ground sounds the Viking lur before taking cover in the long ship float.

New meets old, Norwegian meets American, Viking meets Marine.

Still an even more interesting combination will be found later at the picnic table as the Armed Forces Festival annually cooks up thousands of burgers and dogs for its Heroes Barbecue while Viking Fest chefs traditionally whisk up pounds and pounds of the slimy Scandinavian delicacy lutefisk.

On that note, perhaps lutefisk would make an excellent mystery ingredient for the Armed Forces’ annual Iron Chef competition.

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