Nobody at the Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar in Bend Saturday left hungry.

Attendees at the Sons of Norway Hall filled up on waffles, deep-fried cookies and lefse, a soft Norwegian flatbread. At last year’s bazaar, the lefse was so popular, it ran out in just over an hour. This time, organizers spent all week preparing extra lefse for the crowd.

Food is an important part of the holiday in Norway, and to the Scandinavian culture in general, said Joy Mosier, membership secretary for the Sons of Norway in Bend.

“I’ve discovered that Norwegians were probably the first foodies,” Mosier said. “Maybe the French would take issue with that.”

Norwegian families are known to make seven to 13 types of cookies for Christmas, Mosier said.

The Sons of Norway Hall was filled with decorations, including a Christmas tree with small Norwegian flags hanging on it.

People ate the traditional food and shopped for gifts, such as toys only found in Denmark and chocolate from Iceland.

The Sons of Norway Hall opened in Bend more than a century ago, in 1916.

It is a place for all those of Scandinavian descent — Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Finns — or those interested in the culture.

“We are not just for Norwegians,” Mosier said. “Anyone who has an interest in Scandinavia is welcome to join and learn about Scandinavian heritage, food, language, culture or books.”

Scandinavians immigrated in large numbers to America in the 1880s, mostly settling in the Midwest, where many worked in the timber industry.

By 1916, trees and jobs dried up in the Midwest, and many Scandinavian timber workers moved west.

Enough moved to Bend that a Sons of Norway Hall was opened.

“They wanted the camaraderie,” Mosier said.

Loiselle Dahill, 94, of Prineville, made her way around the bazaar Saturday and enjoyed socializing with other Sons of Norway members.

Dahill, who describes herself as a full-blooded Norwegian, joined the fraternal organization three decades ago after she retired as a fire dispatcher for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

She has been an active participant in preparing the Christmas bazaar.

“For many years, I mixed the dough for the lefse, and there were others that baked it,” Dahill said. “We usually sold out because you can only make so much.”

Dahill said the bazaar provides a good opportunity for people to get traditional baked goods and toys that are not found in American stores.

It is also a chance to share Scandinavian culture with younger generations, she said.

“Every culture wants their family to carry something of that culture along,” Dahill said. “This is one way that we can do that.”

Bend resident Eric Newman came to the Christmas bazaar for the first time Saturday with his wife, Holly, and their children, 2-year-old Elliott, and 11-month-old Violet.

The family is not of Scandinavian descent, but Newman said they were drawn to the community aspect of the bazaar.

They sampled waffles, served with jelly not syrup, and shopped for Scandinavian gifts.

“It’s a nice Christmas get-together with different things than we are used to seeing,” Holly Newman said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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