By TERRI CASTELAZ
NORWAY - The Leif Erikson Viking Days Fall Festival Planning Committee has announced its plans for the 2013 festival, which takes this weekend.
The group, made up of volunteers, hope to help the annual event grow, provide fun for families and highlight what the Norway area has to offer.
"The Leif Erikson Festival is a special event set aside for putting a spotlight on the Norway Michigan area," says Barb Thorne, festival organizer. "The festival brings the whole community together. It gives us a chance to showcase our stores, restaurants, community groups, places of worship, parks and facilities."
Throughout Saturday and Sunday, local businesses will offer specials, demonstrations, games for children and drawing prizes.
The events begin on Saturday with Leif's Run, a 5K competitive race and two-mile fun run/walk beginning at Marion Park at 9 a.m.
Activities will concentrate in Downtown Norway and along the U.S. 2 corridor. At the band shell, visitors can enjoy live music and the announcement of the Friend of Norway and Miss Norway.
Miss Upper Peninsula, Taylor Kulju will attend the festival and signal the start of Leif's Run as well as crown Miss Norway.
Local restaurants will offer a variety of food items throughout the day downtown as part of the Taste of Norway. Viking re-enactors will make camp downtown and share history and a glimpse into Viking life with visitors.
A craft fair is also planned with booths set up along the Main Street.
Saturday includes the Leif Erikson parade down Norway's Main Street at noon.
Following the parade at 1 p.m., the Darrell Syria Project with members of Conga Se Menne will perform at the Norway band shell. The popular musical group from Marquette blends Blues, Funk, Latin, Reggae, Rock and Caribbean beats with ethnic Finnish sounds and Upper Peninsula themed lyrics.
Other activities taking place in town include inflatable jumpers for children, wagon rides, horse rides and petting zoo and fall produce for sale.
The festivities continue into the evening on Saturday with the second annual "Night of the Vikings Feast" at Holy Spirit School. Viking re-enactors will perform while guests enjoy traditional Viking fare. The evening will conclude with a torchlight parade and Viking funeral pyre reenactment at Strawberry Lake.
The planning committee has organized a number of activities to appeal to a variety of ages and keep visitors busy throughout the weekend.
"We are planning a variety of activities and events that will appeal to a wide audience," says Thorne. "There will be something for everyone. Folks will enjoy the art and craft and wood working and vendor show, lots of children's activities, the Taste of Norway and special music at the band shell, just to name a few of the attractions."
On Sunday, Mikes on Main Restaurant in Norway will host "A Breakfast fit for a Viking" from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the Norway Area History Museum will be open for tours from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The Cornerstone Church will host a pickleball open house with free instruction and opportunities to play.
Thorne believes the variety of activities, the autumn setting and friendly company will make the festival a memorable experience.
"I think visitors will have a wonderful experience discovering new things in Norway, making new memories with friends and family and enjoying our area's autumn color and natural beauty," Thorne said.
More information and a full list of activities are available at www.norwaymi.com/leiferiksonfestival.
Terri Castelaz's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.