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Portland midsummer festival designated an Oregon Heritage Tradition

May 17, 2018

The Portland Midsummer Festival marks its upcoming 90th year with an Oregon Heritage Tradition designation by the Oregon Heritage Commission.


Other Oregon Heritage Traditions include Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up, the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana, and University of Oregon’s Mother’s Day Powwow.


“The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the state,” said Todd Kepple, the commission’s chair. “We are particularly pleased to honor a tradition that has existed for 90 years.”


The Portland Midsummer Festival began in 1928 by the League of Swedish Societies to celebrate the summer solstice and the traditions of Portland’s immigrants from Nordic countries. During WWII gasoline rationing caused the festival to locate at Oaks Park where attendees could access the event by Portland Street car. Today, the event remains at Oaks Park Amusement Park and is coordinated by Nordic Northwest and a committee of participating Scandinavian organizations.


Over 2,500 people attend the one-day festival annually. Participants are greeted by the Oregon Lucia Court. Activities include raising the Midsummer Pole, floral wreath making, lawn games, a kids craft area, traditional costume, folk music and dancing, and educational opportunities. Attendees can wander through booth of Scandinavian organizations selling locally prepared Nordic foods, crafts, clothing, and household goods. Everyone is invited to participate in traditional dances.


Elsie Lovgren Norby, a long-time attendee of the festival notes, "It was and still is about family, friends and the traditions brought here from Sweden. I now enjoy seeing the younger generations participating in their heritage as I have done and knowing it will continue on." Elsie was crowned Midsummer Queen in 1941, helped organize the Midsummer Festival in the 80s, received the Scandinavian of the Year award in 2001.


The Portland Midsummer Festival will be held June 9, 2018. More information can be found at: https://www.nordicnorthwest.org/midsummer-festival


An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state. A list of tradition designations is available at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/pages/oht.aspx