It's Norsk Hstfest week and the newly crowned Miss Norsk Hstfest is excited for the guests to experience North America's largest Scandinavian festival.
Katelyn Johnson, of Hazen, will be among the crowd of Scandinavian celebrants this week during the Norsk Hostfest that starts Tuesday and runs through Saturday at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.
Johnson has started her first semester at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, where she is pursuing a major in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry and pre-medicine and a minor in Norwegian. She is of Norwegian and Swedish descent with her Scandinavian roots tracing back to Telemark, Trondheim, Edisvold and Sigdahl in Norway and Strom, Sweden.
Katelyn Johnson, the 2013 Miss Norsk Høstfest, is shown in the Minot State University Homecoming Parade on Saturday. She will be one of the many friendly faces at this year’s Norsk Hostfest, North America’s largest Scandinavian festival.
A new Miss Norsk Hstfest is selected every year in September. Qualifications include being of Scandinavian descent, unmarried, between the ages of 17 to 22, and being personable and able to represent the title at several functions throughout the year.
As Miss Norsk Hstfest, Johnson will represent Norsk Hstfest during the festival and throughout the year at several functions, including participating in the North Dakota State Fair Parade. She will also be handing out pins to guests in the morning at the Norsk Hstfest and attending the Hall of Fame banquet.
She participated in Minot State University's Homecoming Parade on Saturday.
Johnson said she was really excited to be Miss Norsk Hstfest and that it has been goal of hers since she was young. "For as long as I can remember, the Hstfest has been an instrumental part of my life. Knowing I get to fulfill my goal of being Miss Norsk Hstfest is an amazing feeling," she said.
"I feel like I can be myself at Hstfest," Johnson said. "Everyone needs that place where they feel they can really be themselves. Having the opportunity to give back something that has given so much to me is an extraordinary feeling."
When she was in second grade, Johnson said she lived in Minot and her mother signed her up for the Norsk Hstfest's Scandinavian Youth Camp that takes place the weekend before the Norsk Hstfest starts, attended the festival and that's when she fell in love with it. She attended every year since then and when she was too old to participate, she was allowed to come back and assist in teaching Swedish Song and Dance to second- and third-graders. Johnson said she has a wonderful time watching the young children to learn the new songs while the older generations sit back and enjoy the performance. She has been involved with the Norsk Hstfest's Scandinavian Youth Camp each year for the past 11 years.
Along with helping at the Scandinavian Youth Camp, Johnson is also an accomplished musician. She plays the trumpet, flute and the accordion. "My favorite instrument is my accordion," she said. "I learned to play it six weeks before Hstfest in 2011." Johnson was able to take lessons from Jerry Schlag, an accomplished accordion player and performer at the Norsk Hstfest with the J-M-B Band.
"I played in the Hstfest Accordion Club both in 2011 and 2012," Johnson said. "And with Jerry, I have played my accordion in various nursing homes and assisted living homes."
As the 2013 Miss Norsk Hstfest, Johnson said she hopes to be able to increase interest in Scandinavian heritage during her reign. "And of course, help all guests have a wonderful Hstfest experience," she added.
It was difficult for Johnson to pinpoint a favorite part of the Norsk Hstfest, but she said she really likes the atmosphere there. "I like how I can go up to someone and say, 'Hi! Where are you from?' and that's totally a normal thing," Johnson said. "Everyone is so interested in Scandinavian heritage there and that's an amazing thing."
"Hstfest has become a major part of my life through teaching me about my heritage and providing a place for me to be myself," Johnson continued. "I can honestly say I would be a completely different person without the Norsk Hstfest."
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)