Celebrating Scandinavia, then and now

Jessica Ackerman, Minot

As the president of the Norsk Hostfest board of directors, I was recently part of the delegation from Minot that visited our city’s Norwegian Sister City, Skien. This was my first time visiting Skien, and I must say, I am encouraged and energized.

From our first encounters with the people of Skien to our last, and every in between, I was inspired by the pride they had for their community and their country.

Our trip overlapped with Syttende Mai, Norway’s National Day. The day began with celebratory sheet cake at the breakfast table followed by a flag raising ceremony and a children’s parade, in which thousands of local children walked in the streets while waving flags and carrying class posters they had made. There were no candy or prizes tossed to the crowds — the people simply gathered together in celebration of National Day and pride for the place they so clearly love.

As we toured Skien, the intentionality of community leaders was evident in everything from educating the youth to sustainable treatments of waste to the way they care for the elderly to the farm-to-table meals that were prepared for us.

For decades, the people of Minot, North Dakota, and the region have celebrated the Scandinavian heritage many of us share. Visitors may come to the Hostfest for the Vikings and the rommegrot — parts of Scandinavia’s past — but after visiting Skien, I know there is more to Scandinavia that we can be inspired by.

As we plan for the 44th Norsk Hostfest in September, we look to blend a celebration of the past with a more modern Scandinavia for locals and visitors. For many of us, Scandinavia holds our ancestral histories. As we continue to celebrate those traditions, I look forward to how our relationship with Scandinavia today can help influence our future.


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