Jason Olson, Deseret News
Dane Robertson, left, and his brother, Seth, peer through a cutout of a Viking ship at 2002 Iceland Days in Spanish Fork. This year's event on June 20-22 will be the 111th such celebration.

SPANISH FORK — When Brigham Young was colonizing the west in the 1850s, he sent many European converts to settle Spanish Fork.

Among them were numerous families from Iceland. While the Europeans tended to lose their national identity, the Icelanders didn't. Over the last century and a half, the Icelandic descendants have dispersed throughout Utah County and elsewhere, but every year they gather in Spanish Fork to celebrate their heritage.

Iceland Days 2008 — June 20-22 — is the 111th such annual celebration.

"Spanish Fork is the oldest continuous Icelandic settlement in North America," said Jack Tobiasson, a third generation Icelander.

The public is invited and events begin Friday, with workshops at 7 p.m., 300 E. Center.

Some Icelanders may be known for their Viking-like moods, so in the general session workshop Thelma Marinosdottir-Moreland will tell how to stay on their good side.

Lin Floyd, educator, librarian and family history specialist from St. George, is scheduled to lead a workshop on how to write an ancestral history. In a parallel workshop, Rick Mathews and Lil and Terry Shepherd will take participants on a slide-and-narrative tour of Iceland.

Another workshop teaches Icelandic folk songs while still another shows how to make Icelandic pancakes, a workshop that is being repeated this year because of its popularity at the last celebration.

The traditional Iceland Days Family and Friends Fair Saturday is at the Spanish Fork City Park at Center and Main streets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fair features displays, artifacts, memorabilia, family history, entertainment and food. Events include a "Barnabaer," or children's town, with a variety of activities from 10:15 a.m. to noon.

Icelandic sheep will add atmosphere, Tobiasson said.

Expect a distinct Icelandic flavor with the food, which include ponnukokur (Icelandic pancakes), kleinur (Icelandic doughnuts) and pylsur (Icelandic hot dogs), the latter imported from Iceland. Made of lamb, they are slightly smoked and are served with an Icelandic mustard and fried onions.

Other events include:

Barnakór (children's choir) singing a song in Icelandic.

A medley by western-Icelander songwriter-singer Kathryn Warner of Icelandic tales, poems and music.

The presentation of honorees Kathleen Reilly from Payson and Karen and Ed Anderson of Spanish Fork.

A bus tour of historic Icelandic sites in Spanish Fork. Tickets are $2.

Iceland Days lamb lunch, $5 plus drinks. Only 100 lamb-lunch plates are served.

Icelandic Heritage Fireside, 7 p.m., Sunday, at the LDS Church, 300 E. Center, with Jack R. Christianson, an administrator at Utah Valley State College and former director of the Orem Institute of Religion.


E-mail: rodger@desnews.com