- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The 38th annual Norsk Hostfest opens its doors this week with Norwegian dignitaries, Scandinavian chefs and Viking re-enactors, but also a Celtic band that could be the hit of the festival.

Tickets for the Great Hall of the Vikings entertainment lineup still are available, although Hostfest president David Reiten notes seats for Celtic Thunder Band are dwindling fast. Celtic Thunder is a musical group of male performers from Ireland and Scotland whose shows are described as dynamic and dramatic in style, lighting, sets and choreography.

The festival opens Tuesday night and continues through Saturday.

Volunteers and staff at the Norsk Hostfest office expect to be busy even past opening day in fielding questions, selling tickets and fitting last-minute volunteers into worker slots.

“It’s coming together as it has and always will,” Reiten told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1Gc62k3 ). “It’s a flurry to the end, but some of these people have been doing this job for decades. They know how to do it and what to do.”

With hundreds of new hotel rooms built in the city in recent years, more Hostfest visitors are exercising the flexibility that comes with greater room availability, Reiten said. They are making travel decisions on shorter notice or traveling on their own rather than ensuring a room by going with tour groups, he said. There are more last-minute calls for recreational vehicle spaces or tickets. It’s more difficult to gauge how many RVs to expect because visitors aren’t planning as far in advance. But Reiten said numbers should be strong.

Terri Philion, sales director at Visit Minot, said people will want to book early to ensure a place to stay during the festival, but there should be rooms available throughout the event.

“We worked very hard to get the message out there. We do have hotel rooms,” she said. People can check for hotel availability at visitminot.org. Most hotels are listed and do update their information daily during Hostfest.

Reiten said walk-in ticket and day passes during the festival were among the best ever last year, and similar results are expected this year.

A pre-Hostfest event takes place Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. in the Grand Hotel when Sylvi Listhaug, Norway’s minister of Food and Agriculture, speaks at the Joint Service Clubs luncheon. The event is open to the public. Cost is $10.

At least 40 people from Telemark, Norway, will be at Hostfest and will participate in the International B2B business seminar Tuesday.

The Norsk Hostfest Hall of Fame banquet will be Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Grand Hotel. Inducted this year will be George Halvorson, CEO for The Institute for InterGroup Understanding and former chief executive of Kaiser Permanente; Dorothy Dahlquist and her late husband, David, who founded Nordic Ware bakeware; and the late Robert Asp, who built and sailed a replica Viking ship. N.D. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem will serve as master of ceremonies.

Entertainment each evening in the Great Hall of the Vikings features: Tuesday, Abbacadabra; Wednesday, Jeff Foxworthy; Thursday, Celtic Thunder; Friday, Martina McBride; and Saturday, The Band Perry. Afternoon shows are: Wednesday, The Swon Brothers; Thursday, Marty Stuart with Connie Smith; Friday Ronnie Milsap; and Saturday, The Beach Boys.

Some long-time performers will be back, including Norwegian cowboy Bjoro Haaland, who is returning for his 30th year, and comedians Williams & Ree.

Jane Peterson, 17, of Minot will reign over this year’s event as Miss Norsk Hostfest. Peterson is a senior at Minot High School, where she’s an active member of Future Business Leaders of America, Family Career and Community Leaders of America and National Honor Society.

One of the changes visitors will appreciate this year is a new location for the Viking Village that will be accessible through a protected walkway. About 50 re-enactors give visitors a peek into the life of a Viking.

Another change is in store for guests who come to experience the fine dining at En To Tre. Instead of the daytime buffet, the restaurant will be serving a sampler menu of Scandinavian fare. The evening meal will continue to be served as in the past.

Besides the dining and shopping, Hostfest offers Scandinavian craft demonstrations, a bunad show, a handknit Norwegian sweaters show, a lefse making competition and a variety of musical and dance performances. Hostfest continues to give away $100 to visitors who happen to greet one of the anonymous individuals strolling the halls as “mystery Vikings.”

Hostfest functions thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers, who will continue to be needed throughout the event. Anyone interested can sign up by calling 852-2368.

“The volunteers are literally the backbone of Norsk Hostfest,” Reiten said. “We could not put this event on without our volunteers.”

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com


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