Based on social media, Scandinavian Festival crowds could be enormous

Robert Stevens / Messenger Photo
Girls hustle to keep up while pulling a handcart in the 2019 Scandinavian Heritage Festival parade. The parade this year starts at 10 a.m. and runs along Main Street from 300 South to 300 North. With pandemic fears waning, organizers expect an exceptional crowd.

EPHRAIM—No one knows how many people will show up for the Scandinavian Heritage Festival this weekend.

But organizers believe the festival could be the biggest ever.

The festival has focused its advertising on radio on the Wasatch Front and on social media. As of Friday, May 21, Instagram and Facebook pages have had a combined 112,400 views, most from the Wasatch Front, says Michael Patton, recreation director for Ephraim City, who has been festival coordinator. And the pages have had 2,000 “likes” and 500 “shares.”

“I think the crowds are going to be so big we’re going to wonder what’s happening to us,” says Lloyd Stevens, the Ephraim City Council’s liaison with the festival.

“Number one, people want to get away,” he says. “This is the first festival that gives people a chance to get out without worrying about masks. Number two, it’s close to the Wasatch Front. It’s an easy drive down and an easy drive back. [And] there’s been a huge number of visits to our social media.” 

The festival opens Friday at 10 a.m. and runs through the evening with a free guitar-and-bass concert at the Eccles Center from 7 to 8:15 p.m. staged by Excellence in the Community, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization. An outdoor movie, “How to Train Your Dragon,” sponsored by Manti Telecommunications starts at 8:30 p.m.

Booths open again Saturday at 9 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. There will be music and dancing on the main stage from 12:30 to 4 p.m. The final activity is a pickleball tournament beginning at 4 p.m.

A gloss magazine produced by the Sanpete Messenger containing the complete schedule, with articles and photos depicting the events, is inserted in this newspaper.

As of mid-May when the deadline for reserving booths had passed, there were 77 booths, including 25 food booths, and 52 craft and information booths. 

As of the final festival committee meeting Thursday, May 20, there were 36 entries in the parade. But Tom Peterson, parade chairman, says typically half or more of the entries come in the last week and a few the morning of the parade.

Leading the parade will be a color guard from Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery of the Utah National Guard, the unit based in Manti.

Next will be the grand marshal, Ralph Lund, 95, one of the last living World War II veterans in Ephraim.

Third in line, riding on the Ephraim Fire Department ladder truck, will be Gov. Spencer Cox, who will be back home in Sanpete County for the Memorial Day holiday.

And next, appropriate for a Scandinavian festival, will the be the International Folk Dancers, a group drawn from the BYU International Folk Dancers, who will be wearing Scandinavian costumes and performing Scandinavian dances in the street.

The headline entertainment act this year is Paul Revere’s Raiders, a nationally known group that has performed in various incarnations since the 1960s. Their trademark is their Revolutionary War outfits.

The group had its zenith in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s with a sound that meshed fast-paced guitar and vocal-heavy rock and roll with R&B.

 After the parade on Saturday (between 11 and 11:30 a.m.), there will be a “grand reopening and dedication” of Pioneer Park in Ephraim. The program will focus on the Hansen House, which has been renovated in the past two years by the Ephraim Camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) and the Sanpete County chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers (SUP).

Carolyn Christensen, captain of the Ephraim Camp of the DUP will cut the ribbon and Troy Birch, president of the Ephraim Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will give the dedicatory prayer.

Work on the park, which is being redeveloped as a museum park, continued through last weekend with the Ephraim City Youth Council, LDS missionaries, and DUP and SUP members putting gravel along new poured sidewalks.

Some minor vandalism occurred two weeks ago in the park. The door of one of three historic log structures was kicked in, and unsavory pictures were drawn in the wet cement of newly poured sidewalks. The damage has been repaired, and the city has installed lights on the log buildings. A security system is scheduled to go in soon.

The pin this year is a straw goat, designed to look like the Yule Goat associated with Christmas in Scandinavian countries. Enormous straw goats are exhibited in Scandinavian countries during the Christmas season. The legend is that Santa sometimes rides a goat, rather than a sleigh, delivering gifts on Christmas Eve.

The pin will be sold for $5 at the information booth in front of The Suites on College Avenue. There will also be a limited number of shadow boxes for sale containing all 19 pins issued since the festival started the pin tradition in 2003, with spaces for the next five pins. The boxes will be $75.

The pin at the Scandinavian Heritage Festival is a straw goat, also known as the Yule Goat, a Christmas symbol in Scandinavia.