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Solvang Danish Days Delivers Sweet Sample of Denmark Amid Family-Friendly Atmosphere

81st annual festival continues Sunday with all the aebleskiver you can eat, along with a children’s parade, music and entertainment


From gobbling aebleskiver to joining Danish folk dancers, Saturday’ 81st annual Solvang Danish Days served up a variety of options for visitors wanting to get a taste of Denmark despite being in California.

This year’s festival — with the theme of “Solvang – How Sweet It Is!” — kicked off Friday night and continues through Sunday in the Santa Ynez Valley community.

Members of the Solvang Village Folk Dancers, decked out in traditional garb, recruited a couple of spectators to perform on Copenhagen Drive at midday Saturday.

“We are a group of people who love to dance,” Jo Katz said.

The group includes multiple generations of several families from the Santa Ynez Valley, along with Goleta and Santa Barbara, added David Heald.

Its ranks swell for Danish Days as locals who moved away return for the celebration.

“It’s like a big reunion so we have a huge number of people for Danish Days,” Heald said.

“There’s not too many things in this world that are entertaining with equal levels of participation by people of all ages,” he added.

The dancers meet weekly, practicing a broader mix of international dancers. Newcomers are welcome, and not all members have Danish roots.

“We’re complete imposters,” Heald acknowledged.

As the group performed Saturday, tourists used selfie-sticks to pose for pictures with the dancers in the background.

A block away, volunteers entered an aebleskiver-eating contest, diving face first to consume the spherical Danish pancake puffs— topped with powered sugar and smothered with raspberry jam.

Two contests occurred with young competitors going first followed by older teens and adults.

The secret to earning a second place finish was pretty simple, according to Greg Klar from Hungary.

“Jam,” he said. “You have to jam it up.”

Klar’s consumption of 11 aebleskiver landed him in second place, behind Rob Carroll of Vandenberg Air Force Base. Carroll inhaled 12 aebleskiver — the plural for multiple aebleskive as any long-time valley resident knows.

Christian Howes, 10, of Pomona, reportedly won the junior category Saturday.

Rob Tesdahl of Buellton and his 15-year-old son, Aiden, were veterans, having competed previously when the teen won in a younger category.

“It’s think it’s always fun, worth coming out,” Tesdahl said of his meal of seven aebleskiver.

Aiden still managed to eat 10 of the pastries Saturday despite forgoing jam.

People who want to slowly savor Danish breakfasts of aebleskiver and medisterpølse or a spicy Danish sausage can buy a plate of three for $7, or $8 with sausage, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Copenhagen Drive. Click here to pre-purchase tickets online.

Tickets also are available from the canopy tent near the cooking station.

And for those who want to show off their aebleskiver-eating skills, another free contest is set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

This year’s celebration of the community’s Danish heritage included a town-wide restaurant promotion with participating Solvang eateries and bars offering special menus and fare.

Other events Sunday include The Ravens of Odin, a Norse educational group, hosting a Viking encampment in Solvang Park, at the corner of Mission Drive and First Street, where they will deliver historical re-enactments to bring Viking times to life from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Children’s Parade will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, starting at Atterdag Square (on the corner of Atterdag Road and Copenhagen Drive) and meandering down Copenhagen to Solvang Park. All children and families are welcome to join this charming event for no charge. Costumes are encouraged.

Danish Days wraps up with a closing ceremony at 2:45 p.m. Sunday in Solvang Park with another appearance by Danish Days Maid Gabrielle Heron.

Two members of the Los Angeles Americana-Country band, Honey River — lead singer Matt Cermanski and music industry veteran Joey Sykes — also will perform.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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