Midwest Viking Festival offers another look at Vikings | Spectrum News 1
GREEN BAY, Wis. — You’ll usually find Wade Kaiser working at the Advanced Power Systems Laboratories at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan.
Other times, you can find him at places like The Midwest Viking Festival, demonstrating how blacksmiths worked during the Scandinavian Iron Age.
Educating others about ancient Scandinavian people is also part of why he gives people an up-close look at how they lived.
“The Scandinavian people — the so-called Vikings — were not a fully blood-thirsty, ruthless group of people. They were artisans. They were farmers and fishers,” he said. “They were traveling to increase the wealth of their family so they could provide and continue on.”
The Midwest Viking Festival is in its second year at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Heidi Sherman, UW-Green Bay associate professor of history and Viking house director, said the two-day festival gives people a unique way to engage with history.
“If you see something, for example, a picture in a book or if you go to a museum and see a glass bead, you can’t really connect with how it was made,” she said. “But if you can talk to a glass master like Thomas (Risom) or a blacksmith who does Viking stuff, you really gain an appreciation.”
The festival also shows other aspects of life in the Viking Age.
“We are really hoping to show another side of the Vikings,” she said. “Normally, they’re portrayed in this very stereotypical booze and fighting. Certainly they did that — we’re not denying the reality of Viking violence a thousand years ago — but they also had families and they were crafters.”
When asked what he does on the weekends, Kaiser said he occasionally explains to others what it’s like to be a re-enactor representing Vikings.
“I tell them it’s a really good way get a living, tactile, connection with your ancestry and it gives a modern take on a tradition that has been going on for over a thousand years,” he said.
The Midwest Viking Festival continues Saturday at the UW-Green Bay from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It is located on the Viking House grounds on campus and is open and free to the public.