Midtsommmer at Norway House
Fundraising, fun, & flair
Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
In recent weeks, I’ve learned that when Minnesotans do something, they go all out. First, I got to experience Syttende Mai in Minneapolis, and on June 11, I returned to attend Norway House’s Midtsommer Gala, their annual fundraiser held at Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, the Depot.
Entering the Depot is an experience in and of itself, a step into Minnesota history. Minneapolis’s refurbished train station offers both tradition and modern amenities, and everything was in place for the event, from check-in to checkout.
Guests were greeted by a colorful midtsommer maiden, a spirit of the woods there to offer them a champagne welcome drink, sponsored by Røyse Berry Press from Norway. It definitely set the mood for the evening, which was upbeat from beginning to end.
The real fun began with the silent auction, which gave guests a chance to mingle while admiring the goods. There was much to admire, from authentic traditional crafts to original artwork and genuine Norwegian bunads. Many of the guests wore bunads, adding to the festive atmosphere.
But if there is one word to describe the atmosphere at Midtsommer Gala, it’s community: there is the strong sense that everyone is working together for the common good, and even as visitors, my colleague John Erik Stacy and I felt very welcome.
We proceeded to enjoy a delicious salmon dinner, but not before the traditional Norwegian table prayer. Local broadcast celebrity and Norway House supporter Dave Mona was on hand to kick off the program as emcee, and we took note of his professionalism. Mona was the recipient of one of the “Going Viking Awards,” along with the North Chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce, Ross “Odin” Dybvig of Concordia Language Villages, and Dr. Paula Carlson of Luther College.
Another highlight of the evening was the “Kom Hjem til Norway House” address by Executive Director Christina Carleton. One could feel her genuine love for the cause, which undoubtedly has led to Norway House’s success since its inception in 2004 and opening of its doors in 2015. It should be underlined that Carleton is supported by a small, dedicated staff as well as an active board of directors and numerous volunteers. In particular, Kris Walseth should be called out for her years heading up the gala committee.
The gala may have been witness to one of the most entertaining live auctions ever: the animated Kurt Johnson enthusiastically called out the items, including vacations, exclusive dinners, and even an original Viking ship painting by former National Geographic artist Sven Lindauer of Cody, Wyo. Lindauer had heard about the event from The Norwegian American’s e-newsletter and made the trip to attend the event in person.
Norway House is an organization that is going somewhere. By the end of the evening, the community had come together to raise $172,000, shattering all goals. The Norwegian American was proud to be part of this amazing effort, both as a Gold Sponsor and on the ground reporting. As partners in the greater Minnesota Norwegian community, we look forward to more good things as Norway House continues to thrive and grow.
For more information about Norway House, visit www.norwayhouse.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 28, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.