UW-Green Bay to host Wisconsin’s first Viking Festival this weekend

When Heidi Sherman mentioned to her cab driver she was having a Viking Festival this weekend, the response from behind the wheel was something along the lines of, “Oh, I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers were coming to town.”

Common mistake, especially in Green Bay.

Bring up the V-word in a city full of Packers fans and the Minnesota variety with purple helmets, a history of NFC North battles and one really loud horn immediately comes to mind. That’s not the kind Sherman and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will be welcoming on Saturday for the inaugural Viking Festival.

“No, ours are not purple,” said Sherman, an associate professor of history at UWGB who teaches Vikings history. “We’ve tried not to get involved in any football rivalries.”

These Vikings are more interested in an authentic celebration of Scandinavian history and culture. Twenty-five costumed re-enactors from around the country will gather near the Viking House on campus to offer a snapshot of Viking-era life with weaving, woodcarving, blacksmithing, silversmithing, singing, cooking, storytelling, children’s activities and battle re-enactments. The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It’s the first such fest of its kind in Wisconsin, but Sherman said Viking festivals have become increasingly popular in the last five years in the Upper Midwest in states with Scandinavian populations, including Minnesota and Iowa. “Vikings,” the TV drama that ran for six seasons on History, and HBO’s massively popular “Game of Thrones” helped fuel interest, Sherman said.

Source: UW-Green Bay to host Wisconsin’s first Viking Festival this weekend, and there won’t be purple or horn helmets, Press Gazette, Sept. 29

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