Vikings rampaged through Wilkowski Park the south Thurston County town of Rainier Saturday and Sunday, allowing visitors a glimpse of life during the period from 800 AD to the 11th century when the Norsemen ravaged Europe.
The NorseWest Viking Festival was sponsored by The Sons’ of Odin Forge out of Rainier.
William Koutrouba, also known as Captain Bill of the Lost Boys Pirates, was the organizer of the festival, which was in its second year.
“Captain Bill is my elder and a good friend,” said Richard Fife, owner of Blue Tygre Forge in Port Angeles. “Captain Bill told me to come here, so I did.”
He talked about working with metal to the cluster of people around him as he pumped the big bellows that pushed air into the fire to increase the temperature.
“I can make most anything you want. I like to make things that are decorative as well as utility,” he said.
Tim Dybedal, a Port Angeles who goes by Viking Ivan Leskov at festivals, was a kind, gentle teacher of Viking combat with children during the festival.
“I need warriors! Do you want to fight with me?” he called to the group of kids, some in period clothing.
“Yes!” screamed back the children.
“Instead of yes, you say ‘hail’!” he replied.
Choruses of hails rang out. The children assembled into lines with their swords.
Dybedal continued to instruct.
“Swords up! Strike to the side! Strike to the front! Now make a shield wall!” he said.
Kids with shields crouched down, their shields held protectively over their heads, so they looked like a solid dome.
Many often think of Vikings using swords while fighting, but swords were expensive, beyond the financial reach of most. One of the most prized swords was the Ulfberht, the closest thing to a lightsaber in medieval Europe, Dybedal said.
Fa’el’s Forge Metalworks, owned by Tim Louk, specializes in swords and knives, historical, hunting, kitchen and everyday carrying items. Louk, who is from Selah, competed in The History Channel show “Forged in Fire: The Kelewang Tests” during season 5, episode 15, which aired last year. Along with other blacksmiths, he created a signature blade out of drill bits and a chunk of metal.
Also working at the booth was Zachariah Zion, from Yelm.
Richard Bright and Michael Caine were also in attendance. They also participate in The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), which is devoted to the research and re-creation of pre-17th century skills, arts, combat and culture to enrich lives through events such as the NorseWest Viking Fest. The men, riding on their war steeds, demonstrated various combat and sporting events, such as pig sticking, ring jousting and fighting from the back of a horse. Both the men and their horses, a Morgan mare and a quarter horse gelding, were exceptionally kind and gentle with visitors, allowing people to pet their horses.
The two-day festival was enjoyed by many and perhaps even blessed by Thor, the hammer-wielding god of thunder and lightning.
After the first evening of the festival, an intense lightning and thunderstorm lit up Thurston County.
The festival was free to the public.