Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.

We drove to Minot last Wednesday to attend the Norsk Hostfest and hear Emmylou Harris perform.  We have lived here for 28 years and never once attended the Hostfest. It was quite an experience.

The Hostfest is a celebration of all things Scandinavian, and is a major trade show, community reunion, cultural celebration, and entertainment venue. I counted more than 200 vendors of food and crafts. About 55,000 people attend annually. Tourists  come from the Scandinavian countries to  attend. It has all the kitsch you would expect (hence the Rosemaled toilet seat and the Cream of Lutefisk Soup), really wonderful Scandinavian textiles and arts, comforting food, and music all over the place.


The bigger concerts like that by Emmylou are held in “the Great Hall of the Vikings” which is a hockey arena that also serves to show livestock during the ND State Fair. In the various halls named after Scandinavian capitols are smaller stages  where various groups play traditional and modern music. There is adequate space for those who want to polka. Hardanger fiddlers, Danish folk musicians, Norwegian Country-Western stars, and Meti musicians play in the hallways and staircases. We missed hearing Ragnarokkr,  who bill themselves as Vikings with Guitars. Outdoors are demonstrations of Viking games, crafts, and arts. Many people are in costume. People in troll costumes wander the hallways.


The food is interesting.  You can sign up for a six course dinner prepared by fancy chefs imported from Norway, or else visit the food booths. Most of those are sponsored by local Lutheran churches. You can get potet klub, lutefisk and meatball dinners, lefse, Finnish beef stew,  sandbakkels, and aebelskiver.  There is a lefse making competition that lasts 4 days. Nordic Ware puts on cooking classes. My favorite was the class that taught how to make traditional Viking fare like kale porridge with smoked herring. For some reason, the Germans from Russia were selling Kneophla soup and brats, and there were a couple of places to get baklava and gyros.


Artisans teach classes in making Arctic flutes, making Sami bracelets and rings with spun pewter, felting, knitting, making your own wool using a drop spindle, weaving, and carving a Dala horse.

I suppose this pales in comparison to venues like Ren Fest, but Hostfest has its own charm. It is local and international, sophisticated and silly, all at the same time.  I like that one of the Minot banks had a booth where you could write a cheque for cash even if you were from out of town and had your account at a different bank. I like that people were encouraged to go up to strangers and say “Hi, and where are you from” in the hopes that the stranger was a Mystery Viking who would give you $100  I like that many people have been at every Hostfest  since it started 39 years ago, and many people stay for the entire 4 days. Emmylou was in good voice.  We saw an honest to goodness whooping crane in one of the prairie potholes south of Minot on the trip there. The weather was sunny and warm. It was a good day.

Describe (or invent) a festival that you would go out of your way to attend.   



68 thoughts on “Scandimonium”

  1. I may have to venture out for Hostfest some year – sounds delightful with its blend of silly and serious.

    As for the question at hand…hmmm. Basset Fest was fun to attend at least once, though lately it’s been in Wisconsin and I don’t feel the need to drive across state lines for a day with roaming herds of hounds (probably the best part of the day – the sheer number of hounds all frolicking together). The wine and chocolate festival I found my way to one year was disappointingly commercial (there was plenty of tasting to be had, but a bit too much “buy me, buy this thing,” and not all of that wine or chocolate related). A festival or fan convention just for Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels would be fun – especially of costumes were encouraged (where else might someone show up with a Dodo, Miss Havisham and a Neanderthal in their group of friends?).

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’ll keep this brief and avoid a rant. My fantasy event is the sheriff’s sale of all Trump’s property and possessions. I’m feeling mean this morning.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Interesting topic today and very timely for me. I’ve been struggling w/ whether or not to attend a conference/fest this coming weekend. A little on the pricy side because it’s 3-day event (which I can’t do all of) and I would be on my own which is a little scary!


  4. Svensk Hyllningsfest….Lindsborg, Kansas….Little Sweden USA….held every other year-odd numbers-autumn celebration of their Swedish settlers. There is music, folk dancing, visiting artists, craft/art booths foods including a grand Smorgäsbord.
    It officially begins with the ceremonial crowning of the King and Queen…life long resident of the Smokey Valley and of certain age minimum…70? They ‘preside’ over the festival events.
    All youngsters are taught Swedish folk dances (P.E.) and preform in the street center of town during the festival. If any of you know Bruce Kardstadt (ASI)…his mother was instrumental in starting the dance program and was one of my teachers. There is Swedish Dancers made up of high school age (they tour) and also an adult group.
    Saturday is filled will all day activity including a parade…the middle school’s band uniforms are their individual Swedish costumes. Bethany College homecoming coincides so of course afternoon football.
    The town is small enough to park and walk everywhere…’tho there is free taxi service of sorts….a covered benched wagon pulled by tractor shuttles to the South Park and Smokey Valley Mill which still runs for special events. The Swedish Pavillion is located in the park within a collection of old historic buildings. The Pavillion was built for the World Fair in St. Louis…then moved to Lindsorg.
    A grand little festival…with ‘something or everyone’……an unsolicited ad.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. First of all, I have to say that Scandimonium would have captured my attention in a way that Hostfest never would. I vote that they change the name immediately.
    Festivals for us have their seasons. When my younger daughter was a competitive Scottish highland dancer, we attended Scottish festivals not only here at Macalester College, but also in Alma, Michigan, Kansas City, San Diego and Houston.
    When we were active in nineteenth century reenactment, some of the events had the character of festivals, with vendors, musical acts, performers and sometimes mock battles.
    Now Robin’s interest in fiber arts takes us to fiber fairs, featuring vendors, demonstrations, sheep, sheep dog trials and various workshops. So far we haven’t ventured further than Wisconsin for festivals, but some of the bigger ones, like the one in Edinburgh and the one in Rhinebeck, NY are on our radar.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Your intro is charming, Renee. I have to admit to being a festival curmudgeon. I attended a muskie festival in Hayward that depressed me for years. At a salmon fishing festival in Wisconsin a giggling sunburned drunk was torturing a fish hanging from a display board. For years I struggled with guilt for not having buried my fist in his ample tummy.

    The festival my family enjoyed most was Cornucopia Day. Note: it wasn’t “Cornucopia Days.” The town was too tiny for two days of celebrating. They had a parade. With so few people, the parade was made up of ten or twelve floats. If they had marched past the “crowd” that parade would have lasted maybe a minute or two. So the observers marched with the paraders, everyone hiking from downtown Cornie to the harbor area.

    A traditional activity having an old fisherman get up to tell stories about commercial fishing. But he was so shy that he had to get drunk before he talked. Some years that worked. Some years he drank too much and wasn’t able to speak.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Husband and I are filling the car up with gas right now in Sturgis, SD. I would not go out of my way to attend the motorcycle rally held here in August. It is a pretty nice town all other times of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One that I wish I would have gone out of my way for this year was Rock Bend Folk Festival, over in St. Peter. I also love the Ren Fest, and the State Fair – I will travel to some of them next year.

    Winona is full of festivals, incl. the summer Shakespeare and Beethoven festivals. The most recent one was the Polish Apple Fest yesterday, where our Polish-costumed folk dancers danced 8 or 9 dances.(We watched this time, not knowing many of the dances.) The Polish Museum was open, there was Polish sausage and pierogis…


  9. MSP had a celebration of cultures in the springtime that we attended for many years. Among the presenters were The Hungarian Chess Masters. One or two excellent players would play as many people as would pay and play. If you played to a draw you got your money back. And win netted you 4 bucks. My son and I would willingly lay down a few dollars and be slaughtered. But gradually we improved. One year, I was playing very well. There was a shift change and a new Hungarian Chess Master began to play me. For those unaquainted with the format, the Master is playing multiple games. Typically he will glance at the board and make a move. Well this new guy began to linger at my board. Every time he came to me the timing reflected more thought. Finally he came to me, gave lot of thought to a move, made the move and moved on to the next board. I instantly knew I had him, made my move and then the Hungarian Chess Master, instead of moving from the board next to me returns to me and ….TAKES BACK HIS MOVE. I was appalled. My son was appalled. People watching were appalled. The excuse was that he hadn’t started the match and it was just a Friendly game anyway. I tipped over my King as a signal of resigning. And to the right and left of me three boards down, the players did the same. I walked away with my dignity.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oktoberfest in Bavaria.
    1892 Chicago World Fair, in part because it was amazing, was an amazing piece of work with great architects involved, was crumbling as it was held, or parts of it, and because I lived for two years on the ground where it was held.
    1790s Randezvous at Grand Portage, or sencond best, Fort William in say the 1820s.
    But by in large, like Steve, not quite my thing, crowds and all. But any good art festival draws me.
    Small town festivals have a sort of appeal to me. I was co-chair of an 11 day celebration of the first shipment of iron ore in MN. 1984. Two years of work. A bit proud and a bit ashamed. It was out of character for me to do that. Two of my friends and my boss thanked me. Not really anyone else. Interesting part was we had to take out dram insurance on the whole town for the 11 days in case someone came to town for the celebration and got drunk somewhere in town and died in an accident. When we heard this, we thought it was all over. The dram insurance cost about $1200. We expecte something like $12,000. We even published a very good history of Two Harbors. I did the reproduction photography for it. Much of the book was done by my former annual staff members.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I pulled in there one dark midnight not knowing why all the hotels were full and it was because it is a spectacular fall color watch destination and I was there during the peak weekend got there at midnight was gone at six in the morning and saw how beautiful it was on my way out of town that would be a good time for the bread baking festival

        Liked by 1 person

  11. OT: Garrison Keillor has an op/ed piece on Trump in the Washington Post today. It includes this bit of poetry. Gee, I miss Wyler Tyler Schuyler.

    Eighteen years? He paid no taxes?

    Are you sure this is standard practice?

    No wonder he won’t release his returns.

    The bigger the losses, the more he earns.

    Airline, Trump U, and casinos

    All went belly-up but he knows

    Loss is gain. My projection:

    He’ll make money from a lost election.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. North Hudson (Wisconsin) has an annual Pepper Fest. There is a Pepper King and Queen, and princesses. Also a pepper eating contest and cooking competitions. It’s usually the third weekend in August. Put it on your calendar for next year.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m back after hiatus with distractions… that may end up as aTB post…and too much time and energy reading election/campaign “news”. Thanks for asking, BinR.


  13. i would like to go to the international massage festival where the test in massage th=echniques weere demonstrated and the difference between the overall benefits of a 60 minute massage vs a 90 minute massage were viewed and compared. the hot rock treatment and the difference in oils with and without fragerence should be closely looked at. i find deep tissue massage to be my personal favorite but i am will to consider the other techniques as i hav enot doen as much research as i would like.
    foot massage, head massage, face massage hand massage stretching and diferent ways to provide better physical wellness are the goal and i am wiling to do what i can to go forward for the cause

    i was in thailand and had the opportunity to get a 2 hour massage but i had to wait for 2 hours until my massage person would be ready. i asked if there was anything i could do whle i waited and they said a foot massage ws available. for 2 hours before my massage i got a massage. i was in heaven.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. In the made-up category, how about a Festival for Introverts? There would be no parades because all potential participants or watchers would be off doing their own solitary pursuits (or too shy to be in a parade). There would be a few low-key opportunities to have quiet conversations, because even introverts need to be with people sometimes. Lots of space to go off by yourself and do your own thing, or meet in small groups or one-on-one if so desired.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. OT – Blevins reminder (will re-post over the next few days)
    Sunday, October 16
    2 p.m.

    Dear Committee Members
    Julie Schumacher

    Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull
    Barbara Goldsmith

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My grand daughter joined FFA. Ben would know FFA is a much broader organization these days. But she joined it 30 miles from the area where all my mother’s family once farmed. Sort of a full circle.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. FFA hasn’t been offered in the Rochester Public schools for a long time.Even way back when I was there it wasn’t offered…
      So it surprised me the other day when I college student mentioned they were in FFA from their local HS. As yes, as Clyde says, it’s much more than the traditional farm and animal husbandry days. And Good for it!

      Liked by 1 person

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