Do it the Minot way
Compelling reasons for Norwegian artisans to participate in Norsk Høstfest in Minot, N.D.
Gary G. Erickson
Norwegian American Weekly
A substantial number of visitors come from Scandinavia each year to celebrate Norsk Høstfest in Minot, N.D. Eager Norwegian flea market vendors at Oslo’s Sunday morning Akershus festning’s parking lot begin to ask American shoppers in July already, “Skal du til Mee-noot?” Are you going to Minot?
Last fall’s Norsk Høstfest 2011 was no exception for Scandinavian attendees. Several Norwegian vendors were randomly queried during the festival: “Why do you come to Høstfest?”
Were they on the hunt for a lucrative, hidden craft and wares market in America? Their answers were varied, but all of the vendors approached were the same in one regard: they were there for a repetitive visit.
Inger Marie Bordøy lives southwest of Oslo in Larvik, Norway. She is a porcelain dollmaker. She and a friend mix the plaster, pour the slip molds, fire the porcelain, paint the dolls’ features and, “We dress them up!” said Inger. All of the dolls’ clothes are hand-knit by Inger, and everything comes from Norway.
“We’ve been here eight times before,” Inger stated.
It’s not as easy to bring her doll inventory into America as it was in the past.
“It’s not easy now, because you can have only one suitcase, not two. Half of the dolls here are from last year, and they live in Minot. Yes, the dolls live in Minot!” she proclaimed.
Bordøy was asked if friendships had been developed through her time in this area. “Yes, we have very good friends, and we live with the same family. We love America and the Høstfest.” Asked about her thoughts regarding Høstfest and these Americans and Canadians claiming to be Norwegian, she stated, “We are laughing a little bit and we think it is ok to have that strange national feeling inside.”
Ingjerd Løkse comes from Brumunddal, about 140 km north of Oslo. She has been to Minot several times. Asked about her inspiration for travel to Minot, she stated that she uses it as a “little break from work,” her work back in Norway.
She has a workplace in her home where she turns by lathe the wooden objects she rosemals. Bowls are in demand, but so are snurrebasser (spinning tops). She carves and rosemals wooden wall hangings, such as spoons and other kitchen utensils, weaves and knits and does “everything else.”
Ingjerd stated she was self-taught in all of her media. She had no teachers, no classes; she read books and practiced. She traveled to Minot with three friends. They all rented an RV together here, and it is their home.
Just around the corner from Ingjerd’s rosemaled items were the gold, gilded leather goods of friend Edda Mork displayed within her booth. Edda lives near Hamar, “near Lake Mjøsa, the biggest lake in Norway!” Edda’s inventory also included stone jewelry items of unique design. Edda walks all over Norway in search of stones specific to an area’s geology. She traverses counties in Norway by hiking at high altitudes in mountains, and walking the beaches of ocean faced southern and western Norway. She cuts and polishes these in her lapidary, and creates one of a kind jewelry items.
“I have been here ten times before, the first time in ’97,” she said. “I don’t come because I want to sell that much. That’s not the main reason. It’s because I have so much fun! And, I have all these nice friends here.”
What is fun, she was asked?
“Moro (fun)! Moro! Moro!” she repeated. “It comes from friends. They like my costumes, my bunad (national costume). I talk to everyone, I dance, I am running barefoot in my bunad! That’s not allowed in Norway,” she said laughingly, and raised the hem of her bunad to reveal her bare-footedness. “Everyone is so nice. I love America… People here are not different from us.”
Ossian and Agnes Kidholm displayed their spun goods. They weave and spin and also teach the arts. Ossian is a retired stone quarry worker. He drilled, he blasted and he excavated. Now retired, he is happy to involve himself in the peaceful, quiet activity of spinning wool. He has worked with spinning wheel makers to improve the functionality of the wheels, and states there is much of him in each wheel.
Ossian and Agnes have made 16 previous trips to Minot. They come to sell, but it’s not the most important reason for their travel. For them, too, it is the friendships they have formed.
Speaking only in Norwegian, Ossian stated, “We are very happy for the experience. Minot lost 4,000 homes due to flooding. People stand up, however, and are game! We are very happy for being here, but at the same time, we have wept here, experienced happiness amongst sorrow. We have experienced ‘you must make it good again!’ You must try one more time. Life must go on. About Minot here, we have learned that we must tell the world, ‘Do it the Minot way!’”
Norsk Høstfest 2012 will be held Sept. 25 – 29 in Minot, N.D. For details, visit www.hostfest.com or call (701) 852-2368.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 7, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.