PORTLAND, OR — Jacin Harter, the “KUBB Commander” in Portland and founder of Portland Kubb Club, has been trying to turn the region into” Kubbville” for several years. He has been contacting organizations and individuals he believed ought to be playing kubb and trying to introduce them to the sport. Along the way, Harter discovered kubb wasn’t totally unknown. Many visitors to Sweden and other Nordic countries played the game abroad, but hadn’t revisited until recently. Others told him they had played kubb at weddings and it seems to be gaining a foothold on the sands of Oregon beaches.

To his good fortune, Harter eventually met Kristi Gustafson, the President of the New Sweden Cultural Heritage Society at the time. Gustafson was taken by the kubb bug, infected some of her Swedish (and, even, Italian) friends and eventually hit on the idea of challenging her counterparts in the local Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific Chapter whose accommodating President is famous author Greg Jacob.

Gustafson knew she could extend the local rivalry between the Swedes and the Finns to the battlefield of kubb. The first rule of PDX Kubb: no deadly or dangerous weapons on the pitch. Harter and Gustafson have been hosting complementary games of kubb for the last six months, often at Portland’s Peninsula Park where several enthusiastic people and families have engaged as a result of PDX Kubb’s Facebook page.

Harter and Gustafson went to Jodi Lippert, the executive director of Nordic Northwest, the local Nordic Cultural Center in Portland. Executive Director Lippert and the organization’s Board of Directors (including famous author Greg Jacob) fully supported the idea of Nordic Family Kubb on their lawn outside of the very popular Broder’s Restaurant at Nordia House. In fact, owing to the restaurant’s popularity and waiting list, some of the latest kubb enthusiasts have become infected with the kubb bug while waiting for brunch, and some actually return to play kubb for dessert! A Nordic kubb “fact”—no less than 75 percent of the kubbers at Nordia House have vowed life cannot go on unless they purchase a kubb set for their homes. And, Broder’s diners are extremely multi-national, North to South pole.

So, as a result of Kubb Commander Jacin Harter’s efforts, a Nordic Kubb group is now playing on the first and third Sundays of the month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nordia House (8800 SW Oleson Rd.) near the Washington Square Mall in the Tigard/Beaverton area outside of Portland. Also, the Portland Kubb Club is playing every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Peninsula Park (700 N. Rosa Park Way). See the Portland Kubb Club Facebook page for details.

First Tournament

Most recently, Harter arranged for an “All City” Kubb Tournament on Sunday, April 25 at Peninsula Park. The weather was supposed to be cold and dreadful. Commander Harter dyed his hair. The clouds parted. The Oregon rain/drizzle God became confused; no longer recognized him and his love of kubb resulted in resplendent sunshine! Seven teams competed:

  1. The Swedish “Sons” (Eric Goranson, Kristi Gustafson, Mark Sorenson)
  2. The Popsicles (Jess Doskow, Kai Dowskow, Linna Sensland)
  3. AmeriKUBB Duo (Jake Mottern, Nathan Tice)
  4. The Killer Bees (Greg Jacob, Karin Lahti, Pirjo Schulbach)
  5. The Cascadia Taphouse KUBB Kings (Gillian Leslie, Drew Gilroy)
  6. KUBB La Di La Da (Carina Cassim, Amber Drenk, Ute Munger) — in tutus to sweep the costume award
  7. Team Troll (Dave Alford, Dirk Schulbach, Ray Wikman)

The competition was brutal. During practice, Team Troll trembled as they watched the Viqueen KUBB La Di La Da knock down kubb after kubb after kubb, often three in a row. At the end of the day, St. Urho smiled and Team Troll prevailed. The only thing left to do was eat pickled Herring and Munger’s wonderful quiche! Broder’s Restaurant donated gift certificates for the winners.

What’s next?

On June 19, the League of Swedish Societies is hosting a kubb Tournament at the Portland Midsummer Festival, officially an “Oregon Heritage Tradition,” at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego, Oregon. There will be a maximum of eight, two-player teams and awards will be given for first and second place. A $20 pre-registration is required. More information at www.newsweden.org/events

Photos courtesy of Portland Kubb Club

Watch the finals on YouTube

A video of the finals match at Portland Kubb Club’s first tournament