Memoirs of a Viking amnesiac

Well, that was dumb. I just erased all the photos I took at the Midwest Viking Festival this weekend. I’ve been having increasing trouble getting the reader for the smart card in my camera to communicate with my computers, and in the course of grappling with it I managed to erase the card.

There’s another picture I do have, of me sitting under my awning at the festival. But it was taken by a stranger who was kind enough to e-mail it to me, and I don’t feel right publishing her work in this space without her permission. I could e-mail her and ask, but I won’t be doing that tonight. I’m running behind in my chores. Maybe I’ll have it for you later.

Anyway, I made the four hour trip to Moorhead for the festival at the Hjemkomst Interpretive Center. It was not without challenges. Moorhead has invested heavily in road repairs this summer, and has blocked two of its I-94 overpasses, while also blocking off several of the main streets. The festival put us up in a motel south of the highway, and the venue is some blocks north of the highway. I don’t think I traveled between the two points a single time without getting lost.

Alzheimer’s seemed to be the theme word for the weekend, for me. I discovered that I’d forgotten my Viking belt and pouch at home. And the first day I left my belt knife and scramasax in the motel, and believe me I wasn’t about to drive back to get them. I muddled through, however, with a spare belt of my own, and a pouch I bought from a vendor.

I understand we had about 80 Vikings, of at least two sexes, present. There must have been about twenty tents pitched around the center grounds. Big fight shows (in which I did not participate) were held three times a day.

I’d never been to this festival before. The first day, Friday, was kind of dull. Most of the visitors were groups of day care kids whose custodians were looking for pretty much anything to divert them. It was hot, and the wind was heavy, forcing me to hammer my tent stakes in again more than once.

Saturday was more interesting. Big crowds, and I sold quite a few books. The weather was also nicer. The wind was lighter, and there were more clouds. We were worried about storms for a while, but no rain came. The clouds moderated the temperature, so the day was nice. A high point was when a young mother (who obviously has studied the Viking Age intensely) looked at me and said, “You’re the real deal!”

We had authentic Viking foods provided for our lunches. The most interesting thing I tried was skyr, a sort of Icelandic yogurt, served with a berry sauce. Tasted kind of like cottage cheese without the curds. Not something I like, but a step in my education.

I wore my new Viking tunic the second day. It was made for me by my friend Kelsey the costumer, and is burgundy linen. It’s highly authentic (except for the color which, as I understand it, stretches the point a bit). I’m quite proud of it. I was dealing with serious reenactors in Moorhead, and the tunic raised my stock a little, I think.

Then I drove home so I could be at Minnehaha Park with the Viking Age Club for the Scandinavian festival on Sunday. The weather wasn’t bad and I sold a few more books. Sadly, there were no fight demonstrations. I’m not up to it, and we didn’t have enough of the young guys present.

So that was my weekend. The most strenuous thing I’ve done in years. And I came through well. In Moorhead they reserved the Hjemkomst Center parking lot for the handicapped, and asked us to park in a mall lot about a block away. I could have used my still-valid handicapped parking permit, but decided to go the way of virtue. Not a problem. I walked without pain.

In Minneapolis, on the other hand, I used the permit. In Minneapolis parks parking lots, you’re allowed to park for free if you have one of those. I wasn’t taking a spot that those with true needs could have used, since I was going to park there anyway. And I felt no guilt about doing the People’s Republic of Minneapolis out of a parking fee. It’s all in the spirit of the old Soviet Union: “They pretend to provide services, and we pretend to pay their fees.”

2 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Viking amnesiac”

  1. For what it’s worth, I just emailed you the picture I took on Saturday. (I didn’t end up taking all that many pictures at the festival, but for some reason, I knew I needed to take one of you.)

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