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History is going to the Vikings

Calgary Vikings, the Sons of Fenrir, have taken over the Calgary Expo to bring the raiding, fighting and pillaging way of life to attendees.

The Vikings have been bringing the fight to the Expo for the last six years. More than 30 warriors represent the group for the raid this year.

“We train for four hours a week to put on a good demonstration,” says Josh Clarke, the elected leader (Jarl) of the Sons of Fenrir.

“For me it’s the people and seeing how much effort people put into their costumes.

“And the fighting,” chuckles Clarke describing what makes the Sons of Fenrir an epic community to be a part of.

But, a Viking clan is only as strong as it’s weakest link. The group thrives because they are a team.

“It’s kind of like a family. We really try to take care of and support each other,” says Clarke

The group is based on three C’s: community, crafting and combat.

The Sons of Fenrir battle at the Coke Stage in the Stampede Grounds at Calgary Expo on Thursday, April 27, 2017. The group of re-enactors recreate ninth century Scandinavian culture and preform demonstrations for expo attendees. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

The Sons of Fenrir battle at the Coke Stage in the Stampede Grounds at Calgary Expo on Thursday, April 27, 2017. The group of reenactors recreate ninth century Scandinavian culture and preform demonstrations for expo attendees. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

The Sons of Fenrir battle year round, and live like real Vikings. They’re ready to attack from spring to fall, and their swords always ready for the next adventure.

When the group makes camp at other shows they stay in tradition Viking tents. Unfortunately the group can’t camp on the Stampede Grounds.

However, there are limits to the Vikings fortitude, even the mightiest warriors are not immune to the harsh winter winds of Calgary.

“We don’t camp in the deep of winter, we’re not real Viking,” laughs Clarke.

The Sons of Fenrir have been gaining warriors over the past decade, largely due to an increased interest in Vikings in pop-culture. Films such as Thor, and television shows like Vikings and The Last Kingdom have filled people with a thirst for Scandinavian lore.

The Sons of Fenrir embrace the rich mythology of the Vikings; their beliefs are centred on a singular goal.

“We’re not big fans of Odin,” says Clarke.

The sons singular mission is to worship Loki, a trickster god, and in doing so usher in the death of Odin, the All Father. The group derives their name from Loki’s son Fenrir.

“Fenrir is the great wolf, his goal at the end of days is to kill Odin,” says Clarke.

Nuggets of Scandinavian mythology are spread throughout the fandom universes. Pop-culture is driven by a need to continue the epic story of the Vikings.

“There is so much out there because people really want to have it; and making [tools and clothes] is a big part,” says Ryan Jones, the founder of Sons of Fenrir, during the panel May the Norse Be With You.

Re-enacting the entire Viking lifeway is a major part of the experience.

“Anything worth knowing is worth remembering,” says Jones.

Creating kits, the costumes and armoury of warriors, is an important part of understanding what life was like for Scandinavian people living in the ninth century.

“You walk a mile in their shoes,” jokes Jones describing how the only way to understand the past is to live it. He says that The Sons of Fenrir have lived the Viking life; they have worn the shoes and ridden the traditional ships.

Jones says that getting involved with making clothing and weaponry is a way for the Sons of Fenrir to connect more deeply with the history of the Vikings.

“Everything you see we’ve made ourselves, with few exceptions,” says Jones.

The most difficult part of the Sons of Fenrir’s journey to the Calgary Expo was the Pow! Parade of Wonders! Jones described the perils of wearing historical clothing in modern times.

“You can really appreciate what it was like walking on grass, when you have to walk the Parade of Wonders, on concrete, in period shoes.

[If] you want a sore back, try that sometime.”

With hands on experience the actors are able to discover what life was like for Scandinavian warriors over a millennium ago.

“It’s a heck of a lot of fun to hit your good friends with swords too.”

For anyone interested in joining the Sons of Fenrir the group hold scrimmages every Sunday at the Military Museums from Noon to 4:00 p.m. when the first flowers of spring bloom.

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