August 5, 2017 5:20 pm
Updated: August 6, 2017 2:37 pm

Icelandic Festival of Manitoba celebrates 85th year with a new feature

85th year of Icelandic Festival being celebrated in Gimli.

Zahra Premji / Global News
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The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, otherwise known as Islendingadagurinn, drew thousands of people to Gimli in its first two days.

It kicked off on Friday with several features to turn Gimli in to a reenactment of Iceland.

Saturday was a mix of activities from checking out the Viking Village to Icelandic crafts and food, peppered with entertainment, competitions and education all throughout the festival.

The long weekend festival was just one of many things happening in Manitoba. But, the annual event that’s drawn thousands for decades didn’t see a drop in numbers as a result.

Festival President, Robbie Rousseau, saying roughly 55,000 people would be expected to attend the festival throughout the long weekend.

Rousseau also explained the significance of the festival, beyond the fun and games.

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“For Icelanders to go all around the world to see their flag flown, to see their street signs and their language, to hear people speak their language, it really does hit them emotionally,” Rousseau said.

The festival landed in Gimli in 1932, 85 years ago. But, it started in Manitoba 128 years ago.

Organizers say Manitoba has a close link to Iceland. The population of Iceland just over 300,000 and the number if Icelandic people in Manitoba sitting at roughly one-third of that number.

“It really is a slice of home,” Rousseau said.

The Viking Park was officially unveiled to the public on Saturday and was the newest addition to the festival during Canada’s 150th birthday year.

The park was a goal at the 125th anniversary of the festival in Manitoba and three years later was unveiled on Saturday around Gimli’s iconic Viking statue.

 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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