The home of North America's largest Scandinavian festival just became the publishing base for a magazine with a similar mission of promoting all five Nordic countries.
Scandinavian Press, now published in Minot, is believed to be North America's only English-language magazine that focuses on all five Nordic countries.
Allen O. Larson, owner of Creative Media and long-time supporter of all things Scandinavian in Minot, recently acquired Scandinavian Press from Anders and Hamida Neumuller of British Columbia, Canada.
Publisher Al Larson holds the spring issue of Scandinavian Press, the first issue published in Minot.
Looking to retire and return to Sweden, the Neumullers approached Larson in hope that he would continue the magazine that they had published for the past 18 years. Anders Neumuller, who served as honorary consul for Sweden in British Columbia, had become acquainted with Larson through Minot's festival, Norsk Hostfest.
Larson said he has long admired Scandinavian Press.
"I have been subscribed to it for years and years," he said. "I enjoyed the magazine through the years and, obviously, a lot of other people did, too."
Neumuller grew the magazine to an estimated 10,000 subscribers from every U.S. state and Canadian province.
"He felt and I continue to think that way, too that we have an obligation to these subscribers to continue it," Larson said.
However, Larson said the tipping point in his decision to buy the magazine came when Jo Ann Winistorfer of Pick City consented to be editor. An award-winning professional, Winistorfer retired as editor of North Dakota Living after 29 years with the magazine and also has edited books and other publications and served as publicist with Norsk Hostfest.
With Larson's son, Sheldon, as art director, the new publishing team produced its first issue of the quarterly magazine in March. The first issue includes an interview with Norway's Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe and chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Jagland also happens to be in Larson's family lineage. Another article features Statoil, Norway's global energy giant that has interests in North Dakota's Bakken.
The Larsons have given the magazine a new look with glossy paper and full-color pictures throughout.
Al Larson intends to keep the content because of its popularity with readers, but he plans a few editorial additions that he thinks readers will like. Contests and reader submissions of Nordic-related sights in North America are being added to increase subscriber involvement.
"Our desire is to instill pride in the Scandinavian heritage. The opportunities are immense, I think, in what can be done," Larson said.
Winistorfer, who has co-authored a book on genealogy, will be offering a regular history-related column as well as writing features and editing.
"It's a learning experience, but I am really excited about it, especially when I see the new look. It looks so beautiful," she said. "It tied in so nicely with the Scandinavian Heritage Association (in Minot). Theirs is the only known park in the world that caters to all five Scandinavian countries, and this magazine does the same. It's a perfect fit."
Larson added that it will be important to continue the magazine's focus on all of Scandinavia and not lean too heavily toward any one country. In addition to feature articles, the magazine routinely includes book alerts and a calendar of events. Snapshot articles on today's Scandinavia provide light, entertaining reading on subject matter such as a gold find in Iceland and driving skills of Swedes.
Larson said he knew he was taking on a big project when he consented to publish the magazine. The first issue was more involved than even he expected, though, due to the setup of the new format.
Publication has meant handling subscriptions, selling ads and securing associate editors from across North America who provide suggestions and feedback.
The initial hard work hasn't dimmed the enthusiasm, though. Larson and Winistorfer already are planning for the next issue while fielding letters and emails from appreciative readers.
Larson said he hopes readers see the magazine as a way to stay in touch with others who share an interest in keeping the heritage alive.
"It makes some unusual reading. We will do what we can to continue it," he said.
Subscriptions are $15 a year and can be obtained by writing to Scandinavian Press, P.O. Box 1, Minot, ND 58702.