Give me an ‘L,’ give me a ‘U’ ... what’s that smell?Did you ever hear the one about Norwegians and Swedes in a competition where the winner was declared by who could throw the most lutefisk into a five-gallon bucket from 20 feet away?
Did you ever hear the one about Norwegians and Swedes in a competition where the winner was declared by who could throw the most lutefisk into a five-gallon bucket from 20 feet away?
Well if you have, you know it’s no joke and a very serious Heritage Days tradition.
Beginning at 4 p.m. today near the Depot stage, two sides will battle for the 12th annual Lutefisk Toss Traveling Plaque.
Lucille Hansen, a member of the Sons of Norway who helps organize the event, said the idea came from a visit to a similar event in Lindstrom. The local chapters of the Vasa Lodge (a Swedish organization) and the Sons of Norway liked the idea and they started to compete during Heritage Days.
The competition really begins in the dead of winter. Linda Schueler of the Vasa Lodge said she buys fish in December and keeps it in her freezer, the best place for what can be a smelly delicacy.
The lutefisk is tossed frozen, but depending on the weather and accuracy, things can still get a bit messy.
“When we miss it [the bucket], it makes a splatter,” Schueler said of retries and the thawing gelatinous matter.
Lutefisk is a dried codfish then soaked in a water and lye solution before cooking. Some compare the texture of it to Jell-O.
The Swedes have won the event the past four years. “Good throws, good Swedes,” Schueler said with a laugh about the keys to winning.
“The Sons of Norway should probably practice more,” Hansen said, who is a member of both organizations and is the past president of the Norway group. She isn’t Norwegian but has deep ties with the culture through her late husband.
Hanson said a lot of the competition is based on luck. One year, the Swedes didn’t have enough people, so someone from the Norwegian team joined them in the competition, helping them take the title. Hansen said it proves Norwegians can win the competition.
Schueler said she does not like the taste of lutefisk, tasting it once and simply calling it “cold.” “I’m a poor Swede,” she said. “I won’t eat pickled herring.”
“I eat it [lutefisk] at Christmas time,” Hansen said. “It’s not my favorite.” She said the fish can be good if it’s cooked properly and served with the right accompaniments.
There are official score keepers for the event, one Swede and one Norwegian.
Visitors also enjoy the festivities.
“Tourists get so excited,” Hansen said, uttering “We have never seen this before.”
Helping this year will be members of the Two Harbors city council, sheriff’s office, police department, fire department and the chamber of commerce.
Lutefisk scooper and set-up man Jim Anderson and his wife, Ellen, help with the cause and Sam Black does the play-by-play.
Everyone can toss
There will be an open lutefisk toss during the event for those age 12 and older with a $10 cash prize. The lutefisk toss begins at 4 p.m. Friday by the Depot stage area.