Daytrip: Little Norway’s Winterfest

Wagbo Peace Center presents Little Norway’s Winterfest Jan 16-17

–submitted by Alana Haley

In the area of East Jordan once known as “Little Norway,” the Wagbo Peace Center is hosting a Winter Fest with a Scandinavian theme in conjunction with the East Jordan Snoblast Festival January 16 through 18. The Fest kicks off Friday the 16th at 6p.m. with a showing of “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” (rated PG-13), the first in the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein, which borrowed many of its themes from ancient Scandinavian and Northern European texts. The movie will be shown in the Wagbo community room and light refreshments will be served. Donations accepted.

On Saturday, join us for a full day of “skillshares” as well as sledding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing on the Wagbo hills overlooking the beautiful Jordan River Valley. The skillshares feature traditional Scandinavian Crafts and are hands-on in nature. Complimentary hot beverages will be served and Scandinavian-style food (soup and snacks) will be sold all day. Sleds will be available for the young and young-at-heart for use on the hills!

“Weaving a Birch bark Ring” starts the day Saturday from 11a.m.-12:30p.m. Take home a piece of hand-made jewelry and a new skill! Appropriate for older children. Suggested instructor donation and materials fee $5. From 1:30-3:30p.m. learn (and taste!) “Brewing Ancient Finnish Ale” over an open fire with ingredients that can be harvested wild in Finland as well as Michigan. Suggested instructor donation $15, includes Finnish Rye bread and Ale samples.

Next, try your hand at “Finger weaving a Traditional Sash” of wool yarn from 3:00-4:30p.m. Learn this popular rural practice of off-loom weaving that requires no specialized or expensive equipment. Suggested instructor donation and materials fee $10. After dusk, a torch-lit nature hike “Hiking with Vikings” will be led, focusing on the Norsemen’s tree folklore beginning at 6:30p.m. and lasting approximately 1 hour. Appropriate for older children. Bring your own lantern if you have one; several will be available for use. Donations accepted.

Cross country ski and snowshoe demos will be available Saturday at 11a.m., 2 and 4p.m at the Aspen Grove XC Center located on the Wagbo property. $5 includes equipment, instruction, a guided tour and treat by the bonfire. The new Nordic center, owned and operated by Lou Awodey, is now in its second year of operation and boasts northwest Lower Michigan’s newest and finest groomed trails, plus ski and snowshoe rental. Check out Lou’s website at http://www.skinordic.org/aspengrove. Call 231-536-9860, 231-620-5679(cell), or email awodey@twin-valley.net for information or to register for a demo.

Spend the day at Wagbo learning once common and simple Scandinavian folk crafts, skills and legends. You’ll leave understanding what the Norwegians mean in their proverb: “What is good is often forgotten.” All events held at the Wagbo Peace Center, 5745 North M-66, 3 miles south of East Jordan. Registration is encouraged as class sizes are limited. For more information or to reserve your space, please call Wagbo at 231-536-0333 or email us at wagbo@torchlake.com. For general Snoblast Festival information, please contact the East Jordan Chamber of Commerce at 231-536-7351 or check out their website at ejchamber.org