Fifth Annual Viking Fest Returns to Whitestown
Several years ago a brewery in an Indiana town hosted a Viking festival that attracted a respectable crowd. Over time its popularity grew so much that the organizers needed to find another location that could accommodate the crowd. When the Parks and Recreation staff of Whitestown were approached about hosting, they were intrigued by the idea.
“We were looking for an opportunity to bring a unique event to Whitestown,” says Kim Heffner, director of public relations for the Town of Whitestown.
No doubt it is a unique event, as the three-day festival is all about celebrating Viking culture. This means that there are fighting re-enactments, in addition to archery, axe throwing, fire juggling, a Viking village, and the chance to meet live wolves.
Alexa Lingg, events coordinator for Viking Fest, is happy to see how eager people are to not only attend the event, but also to participate as either vendors or entertainers. Held at Anson Acres, a 15-acre park, Viking groups come from all over the region including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois. Many of them know one another, and that’s because this festival kicks off the season and many of them travel all around the U.S. to Renaissance festivals and other similar events. The Ulfhedinn Vikings, Dansk Spyd Vikingr, and Storrada are confirmed to come this year.
“They camp in the woods at Anson Acres, and people who come can see their camps set up to watch how they cook food because they do it all Viking-style over the fire,” Lingg says. “Everyone dresses the part and they never come out of character throughout the whole weekend. It’s an immersive experience.”
Throughout the weekend, Viking groups re-enact battles to educate the public about what life was like during the Viking Age. Occurring several times throughout each day, the battles are the most popular draw, though guests love the handcrafted artisans too.
“I think since COVID, a lot of people have gravitated towards supporting local businesses,” Lingg says.
These artisans sell a wide variety of unique items such as candles, crystals, hand-sculpted dragons, handcrafted ceramics, chain-mail jewelry, leather goods, local wine, handmade soaps, armor, weapons, books and drinking horns.
Many of the food vendors have period-themed items such as turkey legs, burgers, brats and Scottish eggs. There will also be a variety of fair-style food, steak tips, potatoes, loaded fries, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, and ice cream. Beer, wine and mead (a Viking drink similar to wine) will also be available.
“It’s a family-friendly event so there’s food, drinks and fun for adults and kids,” Lingg says.
Children can play in the inflatable axe-throwing area and run the obstacle courses. Visitors can also view different bird shows that include falcons. In addition, a nonprofit group will have wolves and goats on-hand to pet.
Viking Fest has grown each year as new vendors and entertainers have asked to be included. This year they are adding a storyteller, who will be talking by the fire pit. Other entertainment includes the band Pictus, the Minstrel Rav’n, Enchanting Animals, Take Flight! Wildlife Education, Luku the Mad Skald, a fire performer (Friday and Saturday night only), and a keg-toss competition.
“The Rangers of Asgard does axe throwing and archery,” Lingg says. “People can pay $5 to do that. It’s really fun and popular.”
Tim Perkins with Dragons Den Treasures has attended Viking Fest for the past three years and always looks forward to coming back.
“Viking Fest is the ultimate spectacle for vendors and customers alike,” Perkins says. “The staff are awesome, very accommodating, and placement is phenomenal for vendors. It is my best and most fun event by far.”
In past years the Whitestown Viking Fest has attracted between 5,000 and 7,000 attendees.
“I don’t think people understand how big this event is and the crowd it attracts,” Lingg says. “Most of our attendance comes from outside of Boone County. It brings that big of a community because there’s no other event like this in the entire state, since the Indiana Renaissance Faire is no longer happening, or at least it didn’t last year due to COVID.”
Patrick Martin Dansk Spyd Vikingr has worked with the Whitestown Viking Fest for the past couple of years.
“It truly is a great weekend that gives the chance to share our love of the Viking Age with the public, and hopefully educate and entertain along the way,” Martin says. “Every year we’re pleasantly surprised as the festival gets better with more vendors, entertainment and organizations. We can’t wait to see what the future holds and are truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the fun-packed weekend that is Viking Fest.”
Viking Fest will take place at Anson Acres from April 29 to May 1. Anson Acres is located at 4671 Anson Boulevard in Whitestown. The daily cost of admission is just $5 per person. Children 2 and under will be admitted free of charge. Tickets are available for purchase online and at the gate. For more information, visit whitestownparks.org/vikingfest.