Solvang Danish Days successfully completed its 80th celebration, held Friday through Sunday, September 16 through 18, 2016. Thousands of attendees – from both the Santa Ynez Valley and points around the globe – joined in the annual festivities, consuming more than 6,300 Aebleskiver and a hefty share of Medisterpølse during the Saturday and Sunday Aebleskiver Breakfasts and Aebleskiver Eating Contests; watching one, or all three, Danish Days Parades; raising a glass and/or a “Viking Burger” in the Viking Beer & Wine Garden; catching photo ops with the 2016 Danish Maid, Natalya Nielsen; learning Viking ways at the Elverhøj Museum’s “Living History Festival”; playing in this year’s expanded “Kid’s Korner”, in Solvang Park; browsing hand-crafted Scandinavian items in the Old World Artisans Marketplace; and catching some, or all, of the multiple free entertainment opportunities which were abundant during the event weekend, from Danish musicians and folk dancers, to local youth dance troupes and bands, to the special performance by US Air Force Band of the Golden West, “Galaxy”.
The 2016 edition of the annual festival, which honors the 1911 establishment of Solvang by Danish-Americans, and continues Solvang’s Danish heritage with authentic food, music, dancing, parades, live entertainment and family activities, carried the theme of “Think of Something Danish”. The 2016 Danish Days Parade, headed up by this year’s Grand Marshals, Mike and Martha Nedegaard, featured 26 total Parade entries, some of which displayed this year’s theme. Of special note, was a “donated” Viking ship “mid-sail” from Oregon, on loan to Danish Days from Greg Van Vegmel, which carried the Nielsen family – that of this year’s Danish Maid – and friends through the Parade.
The Saturday Parade’s overall winning entry, titled “Danes Love to Celebrate”, was the Nielsen Building Materials/Andersen family float, which included a Danish Days Parade “first”: a zip line. Also new to this year’s Saturday Danish Days Parade were two special announcers, KEYT / KCOY / KKFX Meteorologist and Reporter, Meredith Garofalo, and Shelby Sim, Executive Director of Visit Santa Ynez Valley (VSYV), who joined returning Parade announcer Tracy Farhad, Executive Director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau (SCVB). Tracy also supported this year’s Danish Days by serving Aebleskiver Breakfasts to guests on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The Saturday and Sunday Aebleskiver Eating Contests, which were free to enter, produced what Danish Days organizers are stating is a new Danish Days record of 18 1/2 Aebleskiver eaten in just 5 minutes.
Local beer producers, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., were on-hand at this year’s Solvang Danish Days offering various brews from the company’s line-up, in the Viking Beer & Wine Garden. Joining Figueroa Mountain in the Viking Beer & Wine Garden was the iconic Danish beer, Carlsberg, poured by Pacific Beverage Company, plus, new this year, leadership and members of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce, hosting Danish Days guests, and the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club, doling out the festival’s own “Viking Burgers”.
Solvang Danish Days 2016 featured three entertaining events on Saturday afternoon, and into the evening: the fundraising Danish Days Dinner Dance; the free Solvang 2nd Century Street Party with Echoswitch, a local 80s hard rock band comprised of Santa Barbara County Sheriff Deputy, Charlie Uhrig, and his two sons; and, a special, free appearance by US Air Force Band of the Golden West, “Galaxy”, who entertained crowds with a wide variety of musical styles, from rock to pop, to country hits from the past to today’s Top 40.
Another popular entertainment option during this year’s Danish Days, were the three performances by “Manne”, a Danish music trio who exclusively play old Danish hits – some dating as far back as the 1920s. Each of Manne’s songs were presented with a story, alongside their simple and clean piano, string and saxophone arrangements.
The charitable Solvang Danish Days Foundation, producers of each year’s Danish Days, have announced the dates for the 81st Annual Solvang Danish Days as September 15-17, 2017. See you next September…