Talk of the Town - Foto Finnish April 30 2003

Scandinavia conjures up images of icy fjords and Vikings, Hamlet, and Björk. Or maybe just the Swedish Bikini Team.

But the long history of the Nordic lands encompasses more than rosy-tinged cheeks and beautiful blondes.

"It's a noisy world," explains Maria Welti. "And people forget that there is this peaceful corner of it. But we exist."

Welti is part of Atlanta's bustling Scandinavian community. Yes, there is a Scandinavian community here, with nine clubs and organizations that cater to the growing demographic. Welti speaks with an enchanting Finnish accent and believes her culture has something to teach Americans about how to live globally. It's one reason she is helping to organize the ninth annual Scandinavian Festival.

Each year features a particular region, this being Denmark's time in the spotlight. The festival celebrates Danish author Hans Christian Andersen by staging the author's play The Emperor's New Clothes and live storytelling. A performance from the SAS Brass Band, on tour from Denmark, and demos of Danish lace making compliment the other attractions highlighting the country's traditions. Sorry all you Amsterdam fans-- no mini-coffee shops with their popular hash menus.

$4-$5. May 3, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; May 4, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Cobb County Civic Center, 548 S. Marietta Parkway, Marietta. 770-528-8450. www.scandga.org.