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Warm weather draws crowd to Julebyen

Kaden Dixon (left) pulls Lillie Kozelka in a wagon in a "Dress like a troll race" during the Julebyen festival Saturday, Dec. 2, in Knife River. (Photo by Jamey Malcomb)1 / 3
Musicians like Gerald Thilmany performed for crowds in the "Gnome Dome" during the Julebyen festival. (News-Chronicle photo by Jamey Malcomb)2 / 3
Kids and adults alike enjoyed arts and crafts in the "Gnome Dome" during the Julebyen festival. (Photo by Jamey Malcomb)3 / 3

Crowds took advantage of the warm weather Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, to enjoy the musicians, demonstrations, vendors and treats available at Julebyen, Knife River's annual Christmas village celebration.

Organizers estimate nearly 5,800 people attended the festival.

Julebyen marketing and media coordinator Paul Von Goertz said the event's success was a combination of good weather, family-focused games and crafts, the festival's use of Scandinavian history and culture and the the hard work of more than 200 volunteers.

Sheriff deputies helped direct traffic as hundreds of people walked along Scenic Drive in the North Shore hamlet. Perhaps because of the warm weather, with temperatures well above 40 degrees Saturday and Sunday, among the most popular vendors was Love Creamery and its slate of locally made ice creams and krumkake cones.

The "Gnome Dome," a heated tent with lefse- and krumkake-making demonstrations, was bigger allowing for more space to move around and stop for a few minutes to enjoy the sounds accordion player Gerald Thilmany, the Two Harbors Ukelele Group and guitarist Jim Madison.

New this year was the "Troll Village," which featured live blacksmithing demonstrations from the Burton Forge and Gallery, a chance to try out fat bike or electric bikes from Spokengear and a fire pit for kids and adults to roast marshmallows and make s'mores.

Other kids took part in "dress like a troll" races, where they donned burlap sacks and fabric belts as they raced each other in wagons. Local authors like Lisa Lunge Larson and Sheryl Peterson hosted children's storytime.