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Solvang Hosts Hans Christian Andersen Fete

July 11, 1987|SUE MARTIN

The city of Solvang will sweeten its own Danish this week as it puts on the first Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Festival, Thursday through July 19. The four-day celebration honoring Denmark's brightest literary star will feature storytelling, mime, theater and special meals in Solvang restaurants.

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), though author of many novels and plays, is best known for the 156 fairytales he wrote between 1835 and 1872. In Europe, Andersen's tales are considered adult fare, according to Solvang Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Cummins. "It's just in the U.S. that he's considered a storyteller for children." And children will really reap the benefits of this festival.

"There will be lots of things for children to do," Cummins said. Many of the craft shops will offer hands-on experience, like painting wooden toys and, for a nominal fee, painting T-shirts. Most restaurants, Cummins said, will offer special children's meals.

Festival events will take place all over the city in various town squares every hour, on the hour, until 5 p.m. Story-telling will be a major part of the festival. Hobart Baker, a puppet maker, will perform Hans Christian Anderson fairytales with marionettes. Nadja Forrest, Solvang's resident storyteller, and Thor Neilsen (who looks remarkably like the venerable Andersen) will tell tales in Danish and English. There will also be performances by Gabrielle the Clown and Jan Johnson as Mother Goose.

Musical to be Performed

The musical "Hans Christian Andersen" will be performed by the Santa Maria-based Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts all four nights of the festival in Solvang's 780-seat amphitheater in the center of town. Performances begin at 8:30 p.m. Also, the Santa Ynez Valley Community Theatre will perform full-scale productions of one of Andersen's fairytales each afternoon.

Nestled in the Santa Ynez valley, the town of Solvang (which means "sunny field" in Danish) was founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants who wanted a site for a Danish folk school. In 1914, the Atterdag College was built on the north side of town (it was torn down in 1970). On the outskirts is the well-preserved Mission Santa Ynez, 19th of the 21 Spanish missions in California.

The Danish connection is still strong in Solvang. Danish is still spoken during meetings of the Danish Ladies Aid and services once a month at the Bethania Lutheran Church are conducted in Danish. The Book Loft, a bookstore on Mission Drive (the main street in Solvang) has a Hans Christian Andersen Room with a complete line of his works and rare first editions.

For further festival information, call (805) 688-6144. For more information about the musical "Hans Christian Andersen," call the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts at (800) 221-9469.

To get to Solvang from the Los Angeles area take U.S. 101 (Ventura Freeway) north to the Solvang/Buellton exit, go east three miles to the heart of Solvang.

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