If you've noticed an abundance of trolls peering at you from store windows along Commercial Street, there's a good reason.

The Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is just around the corner, celebrating the area's Scandinavian heritage Friday through Sunday at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds. The festival association encourages merchants to enter the window display contest in honor of the festivities.

Held at the fairgrounds for the first time, the move allows for more booths, more entertainment and better parking, according to the association. Booths will open for business earlier than before, starting at 2 p.m. Friday. Admission is $6 for an adult three-day souvenir button, $1 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for those younger than 5. A weekend parking pass is $2.

The grand kickoff is Friday evening with the coronation of Miss Scandinavia 2002. After the ceremony, Miss Scandinavia and her court will lead a procession to the bonfire to burn straw hexes for good luck. Then festival-goers can dance the night away at the Queen's Ball, featuring a beer garden for adults provided by The Wet Dog Cafe.

Saturday, weather permitting, features the Optog walking parade through downtown Astoria. The flag-raising ceremony and Midsummer Pole raising take center stage at 12:15 p.m., and events and entertainment will continue all day with food, dancing, music, colorful folk costumes and crafts. A new attraction, the Norwegian Fjord Horses, will perform in the outdoor arena.

Sunday begins with the annual Pannukakku breakfast and a traditional nondenominational church service. The winner of the festival association's raffle grand prize, a round-trip ticket to Scandinavia, will be drawn at the closing ceremonies Sunday afternoon.

The festival will be further highlighted in Thursday's edition of Coast Weekend.

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