In recent years the Scandinavian Festival has chosen to recognize individuals and businesses that have helped to make the Festival the wonderful event that it is. Rather than honor a lifetime of service as the Gale Fletchall Award does, this award is usually given out to honor those who have recently stepped up to help.
This year’s DSA Winner is Tom Coon ! Check out their story and make sure to drop in during opening ceremonies Thursday August 10th at 10am at Festival Park Stage to help us congratulate him!
A Viking among Men
By Mary Pelkey
Every year the Scandinavian Festival Association Board awards the Distinguished Service Award to someone who has invested extensively in the Junction City Scandinavian Festival over the years. Over the years many have been honored this way, and this year we add one more to the list. Tom Coon is 64 years old, a husband, father and grandfather, as well as this year’s recipient of the DSA and a beloved member of the Scandinavian Festival family.
When Vikings are not pillaging far off countries you can typically find them crafting and taking care of their farms, much is the same with the Scandinavian Festival Vikings during their off season. When Tom is not being a Viking, you’ll find him working in his shop, doing yard work, or spending time with his grandkids. Tom became involved with the Scandinavian Festival 13 years ago when he and his family moved to Junction City. When his youngest daughter began dancing with the summer group, Tom excitedly volunteered his time to help set up and break down the Festival. You could often find him on festival grounds from 9am to 10pm several days leading up to the Festival and a couple days after. Being a carpenter and construction worker earlier in his life, Tom knew that he could put his skills to use to help keep the festival that his family loved so much going.
After several years of volunteering in the background of the Scandinavian Festival, Tom decided to increase his involvement by becoming one of the Vikings that wander the grounds during the four days of the Festival. He explained his interest to the Viking leader and was initiated before even having a costume. His wife sewed him a tunic and the rest of his outfit Tom scrounged together from various different places and even built his own helmet. He fashioned his helmet to be historically accurate, except for the horns which he added because they are a crowd favorite.
One of Tom’s contributions is the Viking Ship that is displayed during Festival. Built in three months, Tom put in extensive hours researching and designing the ship, and built it almost completely by himself. It stands 23 feet long and 10 feet wide and originally came with four round shields. During Christmas the boat is strung with lights and used as a float in the Junction City Light Parade and usually caries passengers through the cold streets. While there is still some work to be done on the ship, it is still displayed proudly as an amazing contribution to the atmosphere of the festival.
This year you will find Tom strolling in his Viking outfit, taking pictures at the Archway Stage, or watching his grandchildren dance with the Summer Children’s Dancers. His oldest son, son-in-law and his grandson have taken up the Viking tradition which will continue to hold the Festival together. We are pleased to extend our congratulations and gratitude to the 2016 Distinguished Service Award winner, Tom Coon.