Text from the Oregonian article dated 12/4/2011:
Perhaps Scandinavian heritage isn’t required to scarf a sandwich bag of pickled herring in a matter of seconds, but for ScanFair’s three-time eating champion Marcus Waage, it helped. Waage’s father is Norwegian and his mother is Swedish, so the Hillsboro man grew up on the tiny pickled fish. He calmly shoveled them into his
mouth Saturday while his opponents looked frazzled, declaring victory by sticking out his tongue to prove he swallowed.
We had pickled herring in the fridge pretty much year-round,” Waage said.
The contest was the noon entertainment at the 27th annual Scandinavian Heritage Foundation’s ScanFair. The fair runs through this afternoon, and the 56th Lucia pageant winner will be named at noon. The event, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, is a celebration of Scandinavian Christmas traditions, and isn’t all pickled fish.
The contest was sandwiched between local folk dance groups, such as Nordlys Folkdancers, who performed Swedish schottisches and Norwegian mazurkas.
Vicki Biermann of Sandy joined the group seven years ago, despite her lack of Scandinavian heritage.
“I’m probably the only one” without a Scandinavian background, she said.
Dressed in traditional garb, she perused the vendor booths set up throughout the exhibit hall selling sweaters, handmade clocks and imported knickknacks. At Jean’s Hardanger & Scandinavian Gifts booth, Biermann felt the delicate Norwegian embroidered ornaments on a miniature Christmas tree.
On a visit to Norway, booth owner Jean Akre of Kalama, Wash., admired the embroidery, called hardanger, but abhorred the cost. She took one class and started sewing it herself.
“I saw a piece and said, ‘I’m not going to pay that much,'” she said. “And here I am selling it for that much or more.”
The connection between Scandinavians and Portlanders doesn’t stop at holiday wares. Greg Nielsen, 29, tended trays of aebleskiver, a Danish pancake puff, at the Himmelbjerget Danish Camp fundraising booth.
The camp takes kids 11 to 18 years old camping in the Columbia River Gorge
for two weeks each July.
Nielsen started going in fifth grade, then became a counselor. He knows it’s not the usual youth wilderness adventure, but his family follows Danish traditions and camp immerses him more in his heritage.
“It’s really hard to explain to people,” he said. “I get laughed at a lot when I say I go to Danish camp.”
But surrounded by people in traditional dress munching on foods with hard-to-pronounce names such as varmkorv (long Swedish sausage), and lihapiirakka (Finnish meat pie), he fits right in.
“It’s been fantastic to experience and learn about another country’s traditions,” Nielsen said.
— Molly Harbarger