A group called The Lost Boys is putting on the Norse West Viking Festival Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Rainier at Wilkowski Park.
This will be the second festival put on by The Lost Boys, an organization founded by William Koutrouba as a place for kids who need someone to look up to.
Koutrouba, also known as Captain Bill, started The Lost Boys when he was raising his son by himself and noticed the kids who came over were missing shoes or socks. Koutrouba started to pick up “little things” for the kids, such as socks and clothes. Most of these kids were from single-parent households.
Koutrouba started to take the kids on adventures, such as camping trips or fairs. One time at a renaissance fair, Koutrouba said that he had 13 kids with him. A woman said to him, “you have got to start calling yourself Peter Pan if you have this many lost boys!”
Some of The Lost Boys have joined the military and come back as productive members of society. Koutrouba said one girl joined the Marines Corps, and has come back and started a family and a plumbing business.
Koutrouba has the ideology that people need to be nicer and more accepting of each other. He is currently fighting his third bout of cancer and has a scar on his face from when doctors surgically removed the cancer.
“I’ve had a beautiful, wonderful life,” Koutrouba said. “I don’t really dread anything. I helped a lot of people and I’m OK with where I am going.”
Koutrouba said he is not afraid to meet his God.
“Vikings don’t become afraid, not true vikings,” he said.
He said true vikings also don’t hate.
“You find these idiot Nazi groups who try to take some of the viking culture and twist it just a little bit they way they need to,” Koutrouba said. “What they have done is taking good viking culture and polluted it.”
The only reason these groups hate people who are different is because they are afraid of them, he said. If they would open their hearts, and start accepting and stop hating these cultures, they would no longer be afraid of them, he said.
Koutrouba stated that people need to stop this hate of different races, creeds or sexual orientation.
“We are Americans,” Koutrouba said. “We have got to start getting along. There is too much hate and anger.”
Koutrouba served in the military for six years, from 1982 to 1988. He was also in a biker gang for 10 years. He gave all of that up so that he could help people. He moved to Rainier in 2000 and started The Lost Boys in 2001.
Koutrouba said that he has been doing “viking stuff” before he started the theme of The Lost Boys. This will be the second viking festival in Rainier, and Bill is expecting 6,000 to 10,000 people to show up. Around 10,000 people have marked that they are interested in going on the Norse West Viking Festival on the Facebook page.
“Yesterday we were playing pirates, today we’re playing vikings. Tomorrow we may be spacemen,” he said. “They are The Lost Boys. They get to do whatever they want. They get to play whatever they want, so lets let them.”
Rainier City Council Member George Johnson encouraged Koutrouba to start the festival. Koutrouba said that his original reaction was that he wanted no part of it. The amount of work that he would have to put in to organizing the event was going to be extreme, and he wouldn’t get much out of it. However, he said that he eventually agreed, and according to him, he now organizes about 95 percent of the festival. He also said that the city has told him he can run the festival for as many years as he wants.
The events at the festival include costume contests, adult sparring competitions in full heavy armor, ax throwing, archery, bouncy houses and, on Saturday, there will be a beer garden with a band for Koutrouba’s 55th birthday.
One of the larger events will be a shield wall made up of kids who have to block incoming projectiles (water balloons) fired from real trebuchets.
“We have a ballista and two trebuchets,” Koutrouba said. “They are wicked cool! They start launching the balloons … It’s funny, it’s just really funny. The kids just love it! God the kids love it! That’s part of the deal too, you got to see these kids when they are just smiling and laughing.”
One of the reasons that the festival is so popular is that there appears to be a lot of people of Norse heritage in the Northwest. Koutrouba said that people always tell him that they are part viking; they are part Skandanavian, Finnish or Danish.
The festival also brings in donations for the Rainier food bank and the senior center. Koutrouba said that last year, the festival filled up all of their donation boxes, and raised thousands for the food bank.
The festival is free to the public, and most of the funding comes from donations.