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Days of Wine and Pastry : Festivals: Events in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard combine to celebrate Scandinavian heritage, a variety of music and a great harbor view.


In Thousand Oaks, Larry Larsen nibbled on a Danish pastry and listened to a Norwegian folk duo sing tunes of their homeland.

In Oxnard, Bob and Susie Black sipped cups of pinot noir, snacked on prawns wrapped in bacon and listened to '60s rock.

They were among the thousands who spent part of their Saturday under cloudy skies at the Scandinavian Festival at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks or at the Channel Islands Harbor Food and Wine Festival in Oxnard.

Wearing a light jacket to beat back a cool breeze, Larsen was one of about 5,000 visitors at the 20th annual Scandinavian event. He said he makes the drive each year from his West Hills home to enjoy the numerous folk dance and musical groups performing at the festival. Other activities included carnival rides for kids and traditional food demonstrations.

"I'm of Norwegian descent, and this is exciting to take part in the traditions displayed here," said Larsen, 43, as he lined up to procure a baseball-sized, powdered-sugar-covered ableskiver pastry. Other food available included Swedish sausage and meatballs, potatoes and red cabbage.

Consuls from a number of Nordic countries were introduced Saturday morning during a colorful parade of flags as the national anthems of Denmark, Sweden, Finland and others rang out one by one.

Jukka Valtasaari, Finland's ambassador to the United States, attended the ceremony as part of his visit to the West Coast. "It's nice to be a part of this celebration of heritage," Valtasaari said.

Traditional Scandinavian attire was worn by many of the festival-goers, including Florene and Henry Data of Fillmore. "We're here to celebrate my Swedish heritage," said Florene Data, who wore a long, dark-blue skirt and white apron with a pink flowered headdress.

In Oxnard, Bob and Susie Black and others purchased coupons to taste-test a plethora of foods--including barbecued tri-tip, Indian cuisine and seafood--prepared on site by area restaurants. Live musical acts performed jazz, rock, country and blues tunes.

Chardonnay, merlot, champagne and many other varietals were poured by local wineries and others from around the state. "This is a great setting for the event, set up against the harbor like this," Susie Black said.

The festival, which organizers said would be repeated, opened Friday and will continue today from noon to 9 p.m. A special tent filled with children's activities is available should parents wish to stroll the parking lot of booths alone.

"This is for the whole family," organizer Fred Buenger said. "The location here on the water, with all the boats in the background, sets this festival apart from other food events."

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