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Coming together in true Scandinavian style
MINOT, N.D. -- A wood carving welcomes visitors from around the globe to the Norsk Hostfest at the N.D. State Fair Grounds here Sept. 30. Celebrating its 33rd year in service to the Scandinavian culture, the festival provides a fun, family atmosphere for Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen to rest and relax among peers, friends and fellow community members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton)
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Coming together in true Scandinavian style

Posted 10/6/2010   Updated 1/6/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

10/6/2010 - MINOT, N.D. -- Rich aromas of Norwegian lutefisk and Swedish meatballs, cheering crowds for several of the nation's top entertainment stars and a general sense of that overwhelming Team Minot hospitality described this year's Norsk Hostfest held Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 here at the N.D. State Fair Grounds.

After 33 years, the largest Scandinavian festival in North America is still a bustling bee hive of folks from Air Force Global Strike Command and across the world.

Entertainment stars including Daniel O'Donnell, Alan Jackson, the Gaithers Vocal Band, Vince Gill, the Four Tops and the Temptations, enriched the ambience of the experience.

According to North Dakota Governor, John Hoeven, the Norsk Hostfest has been known for sharing not only the Scandinavian way of life, but North Dakota's rich history and culture.

Yet, Norsk Hostfest isn't just about embracing the Scandinavian heritage -- it's also about volunteering and bolstering community relations.

"It's always been really important to me to help out in the community anyway I can," said Airman 1st Class Ryan Ferree, 5th Munitions Squadron munitions systems apprentice and member of the base honor guard.

Minot is home to one of the most legendary community relations programs in the Air Force. Likewise, more than 4,000 volunteers are needed to ensure the Hostfest is possible every year with the base representing a good portion of this number.

"This event would not be possible without the huge support we receive from [Minot] Air Force Base," said Carv Thompson, headline concerts talent provider for the Hostfest. "I have a great appreciation for the military and what Minot Airmen do for their community. They're all very much a part of this community."

Mirroring Mr. Thompson's gratitude, many of the performing artists expressed their own thanks for Minot's servicemembers who not only volunteered their time at the festival, but also for their service to the country.

"The men and women in the forces have given so much," said Daniel O'Donnell, an Irish music artist and performer at the festival. "Whether we agree or disagree, our militaries bring peace to the world."

Another main stage performer, Bill Gaither of the Gaither Vocal Band, said he is "proud of the military".

"Having the opportunity to meet the men and women of the military, like those here at Minot, makes me proud each and every time," Mr. Gaither said.

"As we travel through the airport, when we see folks in uniform, we make a note of stopping and thanking them for their service," added Terry Weeks, a vocalist with the Temptations and Air Force veteran. "When I was in the service I toured with 'Tops in Blue' and enjoyed every moment, especially our stop here in Minot."

Mr. Weeks joined the Air Force in 1982 and served for eight years as a munitions specialist.

"Being a former service member, I have a greater appreciation for our military and what they do for us," he continued. "A lot of people don't understand the kind of commitment it takes to be a member of the service. I just want to thank you [Minot Airmen] a thousand times over."

In an adjoining act, the Four Tops performed immediately following the Temptations, after a short auction in true Scandinavian style. Their opening song, a special rendition of the U.S. national anthem, was dedicated to the men and women in uniform serving their country both stateside and overseas.

"It is only because of what our military does that allows us to live normal lives," said Payton Lawrence, Jr., a Four Tops vocalist and grandson to an original group member. "I give 100 percent because they give 100 percent."

"Minot Airmen are doing a great job," he continued. "From the bottom of my heart I wish to show them my gratitude. My job is to sing, but they put their lives on the line every day."

Norsk Hostfest brought these great artists together, along with many others, in a community constantly reminded of the sacrifices the military makes for them. The base is home to two-thirds of the nuclear triad, making it the only dual-wing, nuclear capable base in the U.S. military. Every year the festival puts together a great act, providing Minot's servicemembers a place for rest and relaxation with family and friends.

The celebration, held during the first weeks of fall, is structured as a morale booster for all members of Team Minot. But as Mr. Weeks said, "Music is the universal language - it brings everyone together."

Together, the main stage performers expressed their sincere gratitude for Minot's Warbirds and Rough Riders when they said:

"God Bless and Thank You."

To see more photos from Norsk Hostfest, click HERE for the slideshow.

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