Wife-carrying contest adds to Scandinavian Midsummer Fest fun

Photo Credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr |Norm Eyford

Photo Credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr |Norm Eyford

It’s almost the longest day of the year…and that means it’s time for some good old-fashioned Scandinavian fun. (While northern countries may be dark in winter, their people know how to celebrate the summer light!)

One of Metro Vancouver’s quirkiest festivals is happening this weekend (June 20 and 21). It involves a troll forest, a Viking Village, and men running away with their wives on their backs.

And that’s just the start.

Photo credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr | Randall Peterman

Photo credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr | Randall Peterman

The Scandinvian Midsummer Festival takes place on the expansive grounds behind the Scandianavian Community Centre in Burnaby.

The two-day event is family friendly with plenty of entertainment, ranging from traditional Finnish dancing to the hoisting of a midsummer pole.

Reik Félag, a Norse culture recreation society, hosts a Viking Village, where kids can see how the Vikings lived, play old Norse games, and watch weaving and blacksmithing.

Photo credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr | Randall Peterman

Photo credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr | Randall Peterman

Other kid-friendly activities include sword-fights, dances with trolls, and a troll forest for the wee ones.

One of the highlights of the weekend is the wife-carrying contest on June 21 at 2 p.m.. Here’s how the festival’s website explains it:

“In the olden days, in small town Finland, there was no social networking or internet dating – if a man wanted a woman from a neighbouring village he had to go and take her! This show of worthiness and determination – together with rumors and hearsay – evolved into the Wife Carrying Contest, where a “husband” carries a “wife” through an obstacle course for a prize.”

Photo source: Scandinavian Midsummer Festival website

Photo source: Scandinavian Midsummer Festival website

The result is a very amusing race — and if you think you have what it takes, you can still register to participate. Teams are flexible on the gender and marital status of the participants. According to the rules, the “wife” is simply the person being carried; he or she must weigh a minimum of 100 lbs (45 kg).

“Wives that are too light will have to have an extra helping of Swedish meatballs or carry weights to meet the minimum requirement,” the rules state.

The winner of the contest is awarded the wife’s weight in beer.

Photo credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr | Randall Peterman

Photo credit: Scandinavian Centre on Flickr | Randall Peterman

The festival also features a craft marketplace, a beer garden, and a salmon barbecue. There will also be traditional Scandinavian food like Danish smørrebrød.

On Friday night (June 19), a bonfire kicks off the festival at 8 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday; the day’s activities run until 11 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

A festival daypass cost $10, with free admission for kids under 16 years old.

There’s free parking on-site.

See the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival website for all the details.

You can follow Carolyn Ali on Twitter @carolynali.

Tagged: , , ,

Comments are closed for this post

Comments are closed.