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Icelandic pride on display in Gimli

Spectators watch the Islendingadunk competition at the Gimli Harbour during the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba Saturday.
 

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Spectators watch the Islendingadunk competition at the Gimli Harbour during the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba Saturday.

 

 

 

 

Visitors also included the newly elected Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, his wife Anna Palsdottir, Iceland's ambassador to Canada, Thordur Oskarsson, and Canada's ambassador to Iceland, Stewart Wheeler. Guests who attended the event had a chance to meet the prime minister and the ambassadors, who addressed the crowd Monday in a traditional ceremony.

"We want to show hospitality with everyone, not just people of Icelandic backgrounds," said Kathi Neal, past president of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba. "We want people to embrace their inner Viking."

The Icelandic Festival, one of the oldest ongoing ethnic festivals in North America, began Friday afternoon and went until Monday evening. Between 30,000 and 50,000 people took part, an average turnout for the Manitoba festival.

The Gimli RCMP detachment said it was a safe weekend. Violence at the festival became an issue four years ago when Martyn Hendy was killed by two 19-year-olds during a street fight during the festival's 120th year.

"Families and people in the community were deeply affected by it, but we want the event to be very family focused," said Neal.

"We wanted to make sure that alcohol was not the central feature at our events this year," said Neal. "The community put on events that were as safe as possible. Most of our events shut down by 11 p.m."

As well as the usual array of crafters assembling jewelry, this year's festival introduced events such as Beach Ball Zumba and skateboarding demonstrations. They also had Icelandic artists, such as Snorri Helgason, who performed all weekend

 

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2013 A7

Author submitted article to Free Press

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