Anna Ferguson-Sparks | Sept 22, 2018
Thousands of attendees from the Santa Ynez Valley and points around the globe, joined in on the annual Danish Days celebration earlier this month, consuming nearly 9,000 aebleskiver — and an equally-impressive share of medisterpølse during the Saturday and Sunday aebleskiver breakfasts and aebleskiver eating contests.
The 2018 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 “Beautiful Denmark by the Sea.”
The Danish Days Parade, headed up by this year’s grand marshals, Glen and Michele Jacobsen, featured more than 20 parade entries, some of which displayed this year’s aquatic theme. 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 two decades; 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. It was a larger-than-life mermaid entry aptly-themed and titled, “‘Float’ing Along in Beautiful Copenhagen.” Category winners for the Saturday parade were: Birkholm’s (Best Family/Group entry, including the original 1953 Chevy delivery truck once used by Helms Bakery); the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School band (Best Musical entry); the Solvang Village Band and the Carlsberg Beer Wagon (Best Equestrian/Animal entry); and the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau (Best Miscellaneous Entry).
Announcers for this year’s Saturday Danish Days Parade included Solvang Mayor, Jim Richardson; Allan Jones, Santa Ynez Valley Real Estate Company; and Daniel Lahr, sales and special programs manager for the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau (SCVB).
The Saturday and Sunday aebleskiver eating contests, which were free to enter, produced an entertaining array of winners this year. Saturday’s contest was dominated by touring competitive eater Raina Huang (youtube.com/RainaHuang), who easily cleared the previously-set modern Danish Days Aebleskiver Eating Contest record of 18.5 aebleskiver, downing 36 of the doughy balls in five minutes — hands free. Huang’s colleague and current Central Coast eating challenge tour mate, Nadia White, ate 22 aebleskiver to take third place, while Judson Clark, the former Danish Days Aebleskiver Eating Contest record-holder, took second by eating 23 aebleskiver.
The Sunday contest winner in the “16 and up” competitor category was Charles G. Bill, Jr., age 61, from Cypress, who tackled 18 aebleskiver in five minutes to tie with another would-be winner; but then a tie-breaker round added three aebleskiver to his tally, for a total of 21 aebleskiver eaten. Sunday’s “16 and under” category winner was Noah Meijer, who ate 10 aebleskiver.
Local craft beer producer, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., was 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 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”.
The non-profit Solvang Danish Days Foundation, producers of each year’s Danish Days, announced the dates for the 83rd Annual Solvang Danish Days as September 20-22, 2019, and thanked 2018 event sponsors: Visit Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Montecito Bank & Trust, Paula’s Pancake House, The Belgian Café, Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, City of Solvang, Village Properties, Nielsen’s Market, Nielsen Building Materials, El Rancho Market, Santa Ynez Valley Transit, Rabobank, Jim Vreeland Ford, Union Bank of California, KJ Concrete Construction and Solvang Shoe Store.