JUNCTION CITY, Ore. – After being canceled due to COVID-19 last year, the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City is back. The festival kicked off Thursday morning for its 60th year.
According to the festival organizers, the Scandinavian Festival is one of the oldest festivals in Oregon and began in 1961. This year’s festival includes more than 80 vendors as well as music, dancing, crafts, food and beverages.
Rebecca MacDonald, a board member in charge of publicity for the event, said a typical year draws between 80,000 and 100,000 people. However, because of extreme heat and a raging pandemic, she’s not sure what will happen this year.
“We're expecting the heat to probably keep a lot of people away. But at the same time, a lot of people said they're going to be here,” MacDonald said.
Organizers have placed misters throughout the festival and placed extra tents this year for more shade.
As for concerns over coronavirus, most of the festival is outdoors, meaning masks won’t be required.
“We put out hand sanitizing stations. Of course, we will make sure everyone knows about the indoor masking mandates, but we only have a little bit of indoor space most of our festivals outdoor. So, that's really great,” MacDonald said.
Shirley Garner, who sells Scandinavian crafts at the festival, said the event is some much-needed fun after a rough year.
“I think it's fantastic. Everybody's excited,” Garner said. “The weather is going to be hot, but you know, you just kind of stay in the shade and you walk around and you have a lot of fun looking at everything and eating all the good food.”
Melissa Rice, who works in her brother’s business The Wurst Food Cart, said the festival is also an economic boon for vendors.
“Last year, we had like one gig that we were doing - which was the Lane County movies in the park,” Rice said. “But other than that, none of the other normal festivals we did were going on. So, this is a huge difference in terms of economics and everything for us.”
The event is free and runs through Sunday.