Viking spirit alive at Høstfest

You too can be a viking for a day at the Norsk Hstfest … just don’t wear a helmet with horns if you want to be really authentic. Gary Anderson of The Viking Age Club said no real viking ever wore a helmet with horns, despite the Hagar the Horrible cartoon.

To celebrate the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the History Channel’s show “Vikings” on Oct. 15, Fox Home Entertainment is sponsoring a Vikings cosplay contest at the Hstfest. To enter, people are instructed to dress up like a viking, go to the Norsk Hstfest, take a picture of themselves at the event and then upload the photo to Tumblr using #VikingsHostfest. The contest winner will receive two free tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations at next year’s Norsk Hostfest, said Kelli Guck of Fox Home Entertainment. The contest will run through 5 p.m. today, said Guck. People can also pre-order season one of the cable series at Fox Home Entertainment’s booth on Joy Street at the Norsk Hostfest.

On Friday, a quartet of “shield maidens,” better known as models for a Fargo modeling agency, appeared at Hstfest during a live steel combat demonstration by The Viking Age Club there to help promote the series and perhaps to give people ideas about how to look like a real viking for the cosplay contest. The contest is new this year at the festival.

The Viking Age live steel presentation, which will also be held today at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., was a hit with a class of elementary school children watching the show Friday. The boys were goggle-eyed as Anderson and Lars Walker gave a thoroughly realistic demonstration of live combat, involving the clashing of swords, the splintering of a wooden shield, and men falling to the ground so hard they lost their helmets. The weapons they were using were real, but the men are well-trained in combat. They want to give their audience a realistic look at what battle was like during the Viking Age.

The gear they wear during the demonstration is probably more elaborate than the average viking soldier-farmer would have been able to afford. For safety’s sake, Anderson wears a helmet, which not all Vikings could have afforded. He also wears a chain mail shirt that would have cost the price of a good farm during the Viking Age, so few Vikings would have been able to afford it. Instead, they would have gone into battle with leather armor, said Walker. A sword would have been the equivalent of the price of a good car today, so most Vikings wouldn’t have had one either. A typical Viking might have gone to battle carrying an axe that he also used at home for farm chores, said Walker. The most typical weapon would have been a spear. Iron and other metals were very expensive at that time.

The live steel combat demonstration is only one part of the Viking Age display, where there are numerous club members who can talk about viking crafts and the history of the viking exploration.