LINDSBORG — Every other year Lindsborg hosts a community-wide festival to celebrate Swedish pioneers who settled the Smoky Valley 150 years ago. It’s called Svensk Hyllningsfest, and it features art, crafts, special foods, ethnic music, dance and other entertainment.

And one of those things is something that draws a head shake from those who simply don’t understand — Lutefisk.

At 1 p.m. Oct. 18 and 2 p.m. Oct. 19, anyone willing is able to participate in an eating contest of the dried fish.

“That is a new thing this year,” said Becky ANderson, mayor of Lindsborg. “The name of the contest is ‘What’s that stench.’”

Lutefisk as a Christmas season meal has gained attention in Norway over the past 20 years.

The dish is dried whitefish treated with lye. The first step of making the dish is soaking the fish in cold water for five to six days, with the water changed daily. The saturated fish is then soaked in an unchanged solution of cold water and lye for an additional two days. The process produces a fish with a jelly-like consistency.

When this treatment is finished, the fish (saturated with lye) is caustic. To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is required. Eventually, the lutefisk is ready to be cooked.

It is often served boiled. According to a Smithsonian Magazine article published in 2011, far more lutefisk is consumed in the United States than in Scandinava — much of it by Scandinavian a.m.ericans in Lutheran churches and fraternal lodges.

“I like it,” Anderson said. “It is a bit crazy, isn’t it?”

Svensk Hyllningsfest is, however, about more than a strange plate of fish.

“One of the most distinctive features is you will see a lot of people in folk Swedish costume,” Anderson said. “This is something that the whole community embraces. All the children in the grade school and middle schools will be costumed and dancing. That even has been here since the beginning of the festival.”

The festival also features live demonstrations of cooking, arts, crafts, and a folk costumes exhibit, a small sampling of what to expect during your visit. The parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, features area marching bands, floats, antique cars and other entries, a favorite event for many festival-goers.

“This year the marshal of the parade will be Bruce Karstadt, he is the Honorary Consul General from Sweden ... He grew up in Lindsborg and a lot of us know him very well. It is great to honor him,” Anderson said.

One highlight for Anderson is a historical look at Lindsborg.

“There is a wonderful costume show,” Anderson said. “It is a historical look back about people of historical note in Lindsborg. It is really wonderful. ... There is something for everybody.”

There will also be a Swedish joke contest, a King and Queen reception and three days packed with events.

 “People ask ‘why don’t you do this every year.’ The standard answer is it takes us whole year to forget just how hard it was to do this festival before we do it all over again,” Anderson said. “This is a huge effort for a community of 3,500 people. It is all volunteers. ... It is a big deal for us.”