On Sunday, September 17, 2017, Solvang Danish Days completed its 81st annual celebration, which was held Friday through Sunday, September 15 through 17.
Thousands of attendees – from the Santa Ynez Valley and points around the globe – joined in the festivities, consuming more than 7,500 Aebleskiver and a hefty share of Medisterpølse during the Saturday and Sunday Aebleskiver Breakfasts and Aebleskiver Eating Contests; watching one, or all three, of the Danish Days Parades; raising a glass and/or a “Viking Burger” in the Viking Beer & Wine Garden; catching photo ops with the 2017 Danish Maid, Gabrielle Heron; rejoicing with Vikings in Solvang Park; interactively learning about Solvang’s roots at the Elverhøj Museum’s “Living History Festival”; playing in this year’s “Kid’s Korner”; 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 four main outdoor concerts held right in downtown Solvang.
The 2017 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 “Solvang – How Sweet It Is!”. The 2017 Danish Days Parade, headed up by this year’s Grand Marshal, Petti M. Pfau, featured 24 total Parade entries, some of which displayed this year’s theme in all of its honeyed glory. Of the 24 total entries, this year’s main Parade boasted three bands: the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School band; Ojai’s Nordhoff High School band, which has marched in the Danish Days Parade for more than 22 years; and the ever-popular Solvang Village Band atop the Carlsberg Beer Wagon.
The Saturday Parade’s overall winning entry was the Nielsen Building Materials / Andersen family float which, fashioned after an ice cream truck, aptly displayed this year’s “sweet” Danish Days theme. Category winners for the Saturday Parade were: Bethania Lutheran Church (Best Group entry); the Solvang Village Band (Best Musical entry); Lil’ Orphan Hammies (Best Equestrian/Animal entry); and the “Guinea Pig” / Torin Curren (Best Miscellaneous Entry).
Announcers for this year’s Saturday Danish Days Parade were Solvang Mayor, Jim Richardson; Allan Jones, Santa Ynez Valley Real Estate Company; and Tracy Farhad, Executive Director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau (SCVB).
The Saturday and Sunday Aebleskiver Eating Contests, which were free to enter, produced five winners this year, as follows:
• 16 and under ~ Christian Howes, age 10, from Pomona, CA; eating 11 Aebleskiver
• 16 and up ~ Rob Carroll, age 42, from Vandenberg Air Force Base; eating 12 Aebleskiver
• 16 and under ~ TIE between Seren Hanrahan, age 7, and Boston Fitzpatrick, age 16, both from Santa Barbara, CA, and both eating 11 Aebleskiver
• 16 and up ~ Charles Bill, age 60, from Cypress, CA; eating 13 Aebleskiver
Local craft 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, as well as Solvang Brewing Company, featuring a selection of Danish beers. Leadership and members of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce coordinated the Viking Beer & Wine Garden efforts, while the Danish Brotherhood doled out the festival’s own “Viking Burgers”.
Solvang Danish Days 2017 featured four new – and free – musical events on Friday afternoon, for six hours on Saturday, and to conclude the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Danish Days kicked off at 4:00 PM on Friday, September 15, with a live performance in Solvang Park by Buellton-based Southwest rockers, The Ruben Lee Dalton Band. The music continued on Saturday, September 16, from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM, when two bands took to the main stage in the Danish Days Midgaard Pavilion.
The first Saturday afternoon performer, local alternative rock musician Jacob Cole, played with his full band until 7:00 PM, when the second Saturday concert by surf-rock band The Rincons, who hail from the California Central Coast beach town of Carpinteria, began their three-hour set.
Danish Days weekend came to a close on Sunday afternoon, September 17, with yet another free concert in Solvang Park – this time, by two members of Americana-Country, SoCal-style Los Angeles band, HONEY RIVER, lead singer Matt Cermanski (season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice”) and music industry veteran, Joey Sykes.
Capturing all of the 2017 Solvang Danish Days action, was local photographer Theresa Gingras.
The charitable Solvang Danish Days Foundation, producers of each year’s Danish Days, announced the dates for the 82nd Annual Solvang Danish Days as September 14-16, 2018, and thanked 2017 event sponsors: Montecito Bank & Trust, Paula’s Pancake House, The Belgian Café, Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, City of Solvang, Nielsen’s Market, Nielsen Building Materials, El Rancho Market, Santa Ynez Valley Transit, Rabobank, Jim Vreeland Ford, Union Bank of California, Rio Vista Chevrolet, KJ Concrete Construction and Solvang Shoe Store.
See you next September…