By Nathan DeCorte
“Hail Odin” was the cry heard throughout the day at the second annual Florida Viking Festival on Oct. 10. The event is meant to coincide with Leif Ericson’s Day on Oct. 9, and celebrates all aspects of Scandinavian history and culture. The event was organized by the Scandinavian Trade Organization, a nonprofit group that works to foster the growth of Scandinavian businesses and encourage cultural exchange in the Tampa Bay area.
The event required the talents of two troupes of professional actors. Beginning at 2 p.m., the group Danelagh Living History set up a Viking folk village on the lawn of the Tampa Garden Club. The group deals specifically with the history of Vikings settlement in what we now know as Britain, Scotland and Ireland. The group’s guided tour through the villages included primers on Viking trade and exploration across the world, a sampling of period-accurate foods like hearty breads, homemade cheeses, butter and dried fruits, examples of the herbal medicines used in those days, demonstrations of the production of various Viking goods, and examples of some of the games played by the Vikings to pass the long winter nights.
After a tour through history, attendees to the sold-out Scandinavian Dinner were treated to a show with their supper. Wyrd Brothers, an improv group specializing in historical events, welcomed diners to sit down with them for an evening of celebration. The proceedings were interrupted when a Viking with a score to settle invaded the hall, leading to a full-blown melee erupting outside the banquet hall. The stage show borrowed heavily from the Old Norse Sagas and featured real characters of history and legend, with brothers Haakon the Good and Eric Bloodaxe coming to blows over religion, family and homeland.
Refreshments throughout the day were provided by local food trucks. Cigar City Brewing and Tampa Brewing Company were both represented as well, with Cigar City showing off the products of some of their new meads and hard ciders, while Tampa Brewing serving a special Viking Beer brewed just for the occasion.
The Scandinavian Trade Organization hosts events year-round. Its next major public event will be their 23rd annual Julebord Christmas Party on Dec. 12. For more information on their organization and upcoming events, visit http://www.statampabay.org.
Nathan DeCorte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.