The Viking longships can almost be seen making their way down the Battle Creek River. The Charlotte community better prepare for the invasion … and for the fun.
These Vikings mean no ill will. They come not to pillage or plunder, but rather to share their heritage through a weekend filled with new experiences for residents of all ages. The inaugural Michigan Nordic Fire Fest kicks off in Charlotte on Friday, Feb. 26 and brings with it a full slate of events for the entire weekend.
“We knew we needed to have a winter festival,” said festival committee member William SaintAmour. “We were thinking of words like frost and snowfest and then realized it’s February, people are already cold. We needed to give it a different theme.”
Hence, the Nordic Fire Fest was born, capitalizing on the wealth of European lineage present in Eaton County.
“A lot of folks in Eaton County come from a country that has a rich Nordic heritage,” SaintAmour said. “It’s something people could relate to.”
The Viking theme surrounding the festival gave organizers some flexibility when creating events.
“Only one event is snow dependent, the cardboard longship sled race,” said committee member Bryan Myrkle. “If we can’t hold the race, we still plan to judge the best designed longship.”
Many of the events will be held in heated tents, Myrkle said, which should help to make the unpredictable Michigan weather a non-factor.
The fun begins Friday evening at the sledding hill located on Shepherd Street, across from Lincoln Park. A community bonfire begins at 6 p.m. with the lighting of a wooden longship constructed by local Viking enthusiast Tim McCumber. The evening includes what Myrkle said would be more mainstream musical entertainment.
Viking camp sets up early Saturday, Feb. 27. Demonstrations, a Viking artisan market and family activities are planned at the sledding hill throughout the entire day. Families won’t want to miss the chance have their hair braided like a Viking, create their own mask or shield or participate in one of many feats of skill or strength.
Action shifts indoors at Windwalker Arts and Underground Gallery beginning at 6 p.m. There visitors can take in some improv comedy or be entertained by the Habibi Dancers.
A Viking feast and medieval entertainment is scheduled from 8 to 11 p.m. at Beach Market. A heated tent will play host to a range of entertainment, great food, Scandinavian beer and traditional mead.
Activities continue Sunday, Feb. 28 at the sledding hill. There people can participate in a traditional archery tournament, check out a sword fighting demonstration or play a game of Viking field hockey.
“I’m really excited for the traditional archery shoot,” SaintAmour said. “It’s an old-fashioned clout shoot, where people are really shooting in volleys. It will be like an arrow storm ascending on a target.”
For a complete list of events, visit