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September 10, 2002
Get Ready -- Høstfest is Around the Corner
For more information: Linda Bromley, (701) 852-2368
 
Visitors from more than 40 states, most of the Canadian provinces and all five Scandinavian countries are expected to travel to North Dakota for an event that celebrates 25 years of success this year. Norsk Høstfest, the largest Scandinavian American festival on the North American continent, will be held Oct. 8-12 in Minot.

Beatta Gilbertson, Tioga, and Charlene Power, Crosby, are among numerous North Dakotans who have never missed a Høstfest! North Dakotans who have been at every festival will receive special recognition at the 25th. Anyone who has attended every year is encouraged to notify the Høstfest office (see contact information at the end of this article).

Høstfest, which has brought national and international recognition to the state, is rooted in North Dakota values, says Norsk Høstfest Association president Chester Reiten. "The Norsk Høstfest has continued to grow in both size and influence throughout its 25-year history because the festival has kept sight of its goal to cherish, promote and preserve a heritage of strong family and community values for present and future generations."

This year's landmark event focuses on "a quarter century of Høstfest success in grand style, celebrating what is good about living in America and how essential laughter, love and family are to us as Americans," he added.

Held under one roof in the All Seasons Arena on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds, Høstfest attracts up to 60,000 visitors. A major expansion of the Arena three years ago allowed the festival to increase in size and at the same time decreased crowded conditions.

The festival, which opens Tuesday night with a patriotic concert, goes into full swing Wednesday through Saturday. Six stages provide continuous entertainment, hundreds of choices are offered in Scandinavian and other ethnic foods, and shoppers are treated to an international shopping experience in the Viking Marketplace.

2002 attractions
The festival opens Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. with a moving tribute to America. The Noteables, a United States Air Force Jazz Band, will precede a dual performance by Grammy award winner Lee Greenwood of "God Bless the USA" fame and inspirational soloist Sandi Patty who has accumulated 11 Dove awards as Female Vocalist of the Year.

The laughter begins Wednesday when the hilarious Tim Conway is on stage in the Great Hall with sidekicks Louise DuArt and Chuck McCann and it continues Thursday with beloved comedian Bill Cosby. Friday the stage comes alive with the well-known tunes of Wayne Newton, who has performed for many American troops overseas and was the first performer to entertain troops in Afghanistan. Høstfest wraps up Saturday with a concert by country artist Mel Tillis.

The other five stages, with international, national and regional talents performing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, are anchored by well-known entertainers such as country singer Charley Pride, long-time accordionist Myron Floren, comedians Williams and Ree and The Lutheran Ladies. International acts are also featured, including Norway's country performer Bjøro Haaland and Sweden's Swedish Culture Band.

Dedicated to the preservation of the Scandinavian culture, the festival introduces visitors to heritage through activities such as Viking re-enactments and games, museum displays and genealogical activities representative of the five Scandinavian countries, a patriotic daily Parade of Flags, and the annual induction of nominees into the Scandinavian American Hall of Fame. A Hall of Fame banquet to recognize the inductees will be held Wednesday evening, Oct. 9.

In the Viking Marketplace, shoppers find gift items covering a range of selections from inexpensive trinkets to designer made Norwegian sweaters, jewelry and other handcrafted items. Craftspeople and artists including about 30 who come annually from Norway - demonstrate their skills.

At the Høstfest Bookstore, patrons can visit with the authors and purchase autographed copies of almost any kind of book, ranging from cookbooks to best-selling autobiographies to joke books highlighting the antics of Ole and Lena. Strolling musicians provide entertainment in the halls during the day and live bands perform Wednesday through Saturday at the nightly dances.

Food is the primary drawing card for many Høstfest visitors. Master chefs, some professionally trained in Scandinavian countries, prepare cuisine that can generally be found only in fine dining restaurants. At the same time, visitors can enjoy quaint sidewalk cafes and food booths with a variety of Scandinavian and American foods.

Advance planning
Because hotel rooms in Minot are limited, many North Dakotans who attend prefer to rely on private housing or their personal RVs.

RV registrations are already at a record number, but spots still remain. About 1,000 RV spots are available on the Høstfest grounds, and several campgrounds are located within a five-mile radius. A number of special events are planned specifically for the RV audience. RVers interested in events specifically for them can call the Høstfest office for information or see the website.

Visitors to Minot may also choose to tour the Scandinavian Heritage Park, home to the nation's only full-scale replica of a Norwegian Gol Stave Church. An original Norwegian stabbur and cabin, a Finnish sauna, Danish windmill, Swedish dala horse, and other Scandinavian influences fill the park, which is also the site of offices for Norsk Høstfest, Scandinavian Heritage Association, and Sons of Norway.

Purchasing tickets
Reiten also calls Høstfest "a bargain compared to most other entertainment venues." A daily $35 ticket gets visitors into all events and includes a reserved seat for the show of choice in the Great Hall. Cost of the Tuesday evening performance is $30 and tickets for the Hall of Fame Banquet Wednesday evening are $35.

For information on hotel accommodations, call 701-857-8206 and to obtain information on private housing, call 701-857-0500. For additional information on the festival or to purchase tickets, see www.hostfest.com or call the Høstfest office at 701-852-2368.