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Norsk Hostfest adds to experience

by Candi Helseth

Norsk Hostfest Characters

Norsk Høstfest is celebrating 39 years by adding Scandinavian learning experiences and expanding its Viking Village, Author's Corner and Høstfest University.

It all begins Sept. 27 with the Tuesday evening concert by Norway's brother duo, Solli-Tangen, accompanied by the Minot Symphony Orchestra. The concert will be held at Ann Nicole Nelson Hall on the Minot State University campus. The symphony organization is handling ticket sales.

Norsk Høstfest week continues Sept. 28-Oct. 1 with the Great Hall of Viking daily concerts featuring Big & Rich, Neil Sedaka, Emmylou Harris, Daniel O’Donnell, Sara Evans, Dwight Yoakam, Chicago, and Tommy James & the Shondells. On the festival’s free stages, shows run continuously with a wide multitude of music and arts programs that include country and classic musicians, cloggers, Scandinavian dancers, and even a Danish comedian who juggles and performs magic tricks.

In addition to entertainment, food probably ranks as the festival’s other biggest draw. “There is literally nowhere else between the West Coast and Minneapolis where you can enjoy Scandinavian dining such as our En To Tre and Scandi restaurants, where we bring in chefs from Norway to prepare and serve full-course meals,” Norsk Høstfest President David Reiten said. “We’ve also added kitchen demonstrations where these chefs share their knowledge and recipes.”

Hands-on interests are being met with the development and growth of attractions, such as the Nordic Demonstration Kitchens, Høstfest University, Viking Village, the Author's Corner and new interactive games this year that teach participants about heritage and Scandinavia in a fun, entertaining manner.

“What keeps us alive is that we are always evolving, always looking to make it bigger and better,” Reiten asserted.

This year, Høstfest University, a Scandinavian folk school for adults, is offering 18 different courses. Arne & Carlos, knitters from Norway, are among instructors teaching for the first time. Woodcarving, rosemaling and jewelry making are among class options; participants take home the handcrafted item they have made.

Book lovers of all ages enjoy the Author's Corner where various writers read from their books and talk about their life experiences.

Hammered metal, flute making and drop spindling are among ancient Nordic arts being demonstrated in the Viking Village. Nearby is Trømsø Cultural Village, where artists from Norway demonstrate ancient crafts such as felting.

“Unparalleled entertainment, food, shopping, learning and Scandinavian culture await you at Norsk Høstfest,” Reiten proclaims. “If you’ve never been to the Scandinavian countries, this is the most authentic Scandinavian experience that you can find. It’s impossible to fully describe. You have to be here!”

For more information and to purchase reserved tickets for the Great Hall of Vikings performers, En To Tre and Høstfest University classes, visit

Candi Helseth is a freelance writer from Minot.


Co-ops partner with event

In its role as a corporate sponsor, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives has been a Norsk Høstfest partner and supporter since 1999. Norsk Høstfest Association President David Reiten calls Touchstone’s partnership “integral to the success of the festival.”

At the Touchstone Energy booth, Norsk Høstfest guests line up for free freshly baked cookies and an opportunity to register for great prizes. Last year, Touchstone Energy volunteers distributed more than 20,000 cookies. Heidi Robbins, who has volunteered every year since she began working at Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative (BDEC) in 2009, is among the employees, directors and retirees from 20 North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana cooperatives who volunteer during the event.

“It’s fun to be part of Høstfest,” said Robbins, BDEC’s member services manager. “Every year, there are new attractions and additions that just keep improving the overall festival. But the people are what make it really fun. Everyone is so friendly and so clearly enjoying their time there.”

The Touchstone Energy-sponsored Copenhagen Hall boasts Scandinavian-inspired sidewalk cafes, two entertainment stages and the Artisans’ Heritage Village.

“Our involvement at Høstfest allows us to connect with members at the end of the line and to show our members what the cooperative difference is all about,” said organizer Jeremy Woeste, Basin Electric Power Cooperative member media coordinator. “One of our core values is commitment to community. The large number of volunteers that make Høstfest possible every year demonstrates the immense community support this event has.”

Touchstone Energy is a national alliance of more than 750 member-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states.