With long beards and long hair, Kansas City, Mo., residents Caleb May and Stephen Holdeman — dressed in traditional Nordic costumes — looked the part of real Vikings at Saturday’s ninth annual Nordic Heritage Festival.
Well, except for the combat boots.
Even with the slight modern addition to the wardrobe, nobody could deny that the two were enthusiastic about Nordic history and culture. The duo has even found a way to mesh Scandinavian history into their Viking heavy metal band called Stone Haven.
“It’s our foremost passion,” Holdeman said. “We’re enthusiastic about it.”
The event also gave Holdeman and May a chance to educate community members about what they say is an often ignored segment of history.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think most schools teach much about Vikings,” said Holdeman, who studied Vikings on his own.
Curious visitors wandered through the various booths at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, some featuring Nordic arts or music, others offering samples of authentic Nordic foods, such as Krumkake, which looks a lot like a waffle cone.
Outside, a troop of Viking re-enactors demonstrated how clothes were made, food cooked, and metals fused during the years between 793 and 1066 in the Scandinavian regions.
The group, which goes by the name Ravensborg, is based in Missouri and travels across the region. The group is also building a traditional Viking hilltop fortress in Knox City, Mo.
While it’s a fun hobby, member Terrie Helleloid said the crew takes historical accuracy and authenticity pretty seriously. Helleloid’s traditional Viking attire doesn’t just look authentic, it was made authentically — right down to the stitching pattern and the needles, which a friend handmade to resemble those used by their Nordic ancestors.
Celebrating her culture is clearly a passion, maybe even an obsession, Helleloid said. But it’s in her blood.
“It comes to me naturally,” she said. “I’m doing what I love.”