EmigrationWeb Norway
Press Release: Norsk Høstfest
21. desember 2003

Charley PrideNorsk Høstfest exhibitor Thelma Bendickson celebrated her 95th birthday in grand style at the 2003 Norsk Høstfest Oct. 7-11 in Minot, ND, USA. Country singer Charley Pride sang Happy Birthday to her.


Norway%u2019s Country Gentleman Bjøro Haaland turned 60 in October. During his last performance at Høstfest, about 75 entertainers surprised Haaland on stage. Haaland%u2019s audience was treated to a group rendition of Happy Birthday featuring many of Høstfest%u2019s entertainers all congregated in one spot and obviously enjoying the festival from a personal standpoint. During the festival, seven stages feature continuous entertainment from morning to evening Wednesday through Saturday.

%u201CIt%u2019s those spontaneous gestures and the fact that entertainers and exhibitors become friends with each other and mix with our public at the festival that make Norsk Høstfest uniquely successful,%u201D says Chester Reiten, Norsk Høstfest Association president. %u201CYou don%u2019t see things like that happening just anywhere. But you see it all the time at Høstfest. When we read our surveys, the thing that people say draws them back year after year is the friendliness of the people.%u201D

Reiten declared another successful year for the festival%u2019s 26th observance. Recognized as North America%u2019s largest Scandinavian festival, Norsk Høstfest is dedicated to the preservation and recognition of Scandinavian culture, including all five Scandinavian countries. In the United States, the American Bus Association has named the festival for several years as one of the Top 100 Events. This year Norsk Høstfest was also chosen from among more than 40,000 entries as one of 10 places in North Dakota to be recognized as a Travelocity Local Secrets, Big Find.

Reiten said the festival plans for 55,000-60,000 guests each year. At least 20 states and Canadian provinces were represented, and he estimated that more than 100 people from Norway were at the 2003 festival.

Among the Norwegians were three chefs who staffed the festival%u2019s Scandinavian Kitchen, exposing patrons to Norway%u2019s finest seafood dishes. Chefs were Lars Roalkvam, banquet manager for Radisson SAS Hotels in Stavanger; Ruth Ørsahl, head chef with Radison SAS Company in Norway, and Siri Tungland, head chef on Norway%u2019s Hurtigruten cruise boats.

Eva Loefler, a native of Norway now living in Colorado, attended for the first time as an exhibitor selling Fjonissers (barn Santas). The hand sculpted, hand crafted dolls wear clogs from Norway and are dressed in clothing knitted by Eva%u2019s mother in Norway.

%u201CThis is my first time ever in North Dakota and it%u2019s a wonder to see so much Scandinavian interest,%u201D Eva said. %u201CI couldn%u2019t have imagined the immensity of Høstfest without seeing it. You really have to come to understand how big it is. Everyone here looks so Scandinavian, its great.%u201D

Special guests at the 2003 festival included Thor S. Johansen, Royal Norwegian Consulate General from Minneapolis, and a delegation from Skien, Norway, which is Minot%u2019s sister city.


Norwegian and Norwegian American entertainers included:
accordionist Gudny Dahlen of Norway; Norway%u2019s world dance champions Karin Brennesvik and Eivind Bakken, Norwegian American dancers Ruth Sylte and Mikkel Thompson; Canadian folk singing legends Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard, who are of Norwegian and Danish background; and interactive character Karen Quest as Tillie Baldwin, the tallest Norwegian cowgirl in the world.

In the Viking Market, Norwegian products included Ekornes and Hjellegarde furniture, Dale of Norway sweaters and solje jewelry. Laila, a women%u2019s fragrance that originated in Norway, has been designated the official Norsk Høstfest perfume due to its popularity among festival patrons.

Norwegian and Norwegian American craftspeople who demonstrated throughout the festival included Harley Refsal, of Iowa, a master woodcarver recognized by the King of Norway for his contributions to Norwegian arts in the area of flat plane woodcarving; Ossian Kidholm of Norway, who demonstrated spinning of Angora wool; and about 20 craftspeople from Norway.

In the Bookstore, Norwegian journalists Eivind Stronde and Anne-Gry Blikom were among several authors autographing their books. They created a website on skier Sondre Norheim and have written a book, Sondre Norheim, the Father of Modern Skiing. Fred Ivar Utsi Klemetsen%u2019s photographic exhibit of the lives and culture of Lapplanders was displayed at Minot%u2019s Taube Gallery throughout the month of October.


Bendickson is looking forward to turning 96 at Norsk Høstfest.  %u201CI wouldn%u2019t miss it,%u201D she declares.  %u201CIt%u2019s such fun speaking Norwegian to all the Norwegians.%u201D

The 27th annual Høstfest will be held Oct 5-9, 2004. Tickets go on sale May 17, 2004. Norsk Høstfest is developing an email database. If you would like to receive news about the upcoming festival, send your name and email address to Norsk Høstfest Association, Box 1347, Minot, ND, 58702. (Being on the mailing list puts you under no obligation and Norsk Høstfest will not solicit you or release your email address to anyone else.)


For more information on Norsk Høstfest, call 701-852-2368 or go to www.hostfest.com.

Richard Anhorn
Norsk Høstfest
Minot, ND
North America's largest Scandinavian American Festival