In just two years, the Michigan Nordic Fire Festival, based in Charlotte, has grown to become one of the premier winter events in the region. Organizers have a few theories as to why, but all agree that the Viking-themed event offers visitors something unique.
“This is the time of the year when things are quiet, people have cabin fever, and are itching to get outside,” said Tracey Schwalbach, an event organizer. “It’s a great time for a festival, a great time for something different.”
This year’s event takes place Friday, Feb. 23 through Sunday, Feb. 25. Most events take place at the community sledding hill located on Shepherd Street across from Lincoln Park.
William Saint-Amour, one of the event founders said the Nordic Fire Festival builds on the growing interest in Viking and medieval culture through popular television shows such as Viking and Game of Thrones.
“There’s been a resurgence in interest in historic martial arts,” Saint-Amour said. “We offer several opportunities for real hands on and fun. People can throw spears if they’ve never thrown a spear, or learn to sword fight if they’ve never done it. We offer that tactile experience. Everything is also kid friendly, which makes it affordable for families to come and enjoy new experiences together.”
The popularity of the festival has also led to new relationships with performers, re-enactors and enthusiasts that fit the period-themed event.
“The entertainment area keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Saint-Amour said. “This year we’ve partnered with the Great Lakes Flow Festival to bring in a fire competition. They are really interested in teaching people. We’ll also have a belly dance competition and demos. There’s also a pretty robust Viking village taking place.”
Schwalbach said making those new connections is really what keeps organizing the festival so interesting.
“We work so hard for it, when we see the growth, it is rewarding,” she said. “You see it by the more people that come and enjoy it each year.” “Each year we’ve had people say that they wouldn’t believe it if they hadn’t seen it for themselves,” stated Bryan Myrkle one of the event organizers. “It really is a unique event, and that’s why it’s catching-on.”
Myrkle said the festival is family-friendly and fun for all ages. Kids can make their own Viking axe or shield, meet a Nordic Princess, and learn their Viking name, he said.
“Visitors can dress in their silly or serious Viking garb, and munch on a smoked ham shank while historical re-enactors demonstrate a variety of period skills and abilities,” Myrkle stated.
For a complete list of events, visit michigannordicfirefestival.com.