Norsk Høstfest Canceled for 2021; Reiten Retires
The 2021 Norsk Høstfest has been canceled, but plans are underway to bring the festival back in 2022 with a new president at the helm.
The Høstfest Board of Directors voted this week to cancel this year’s festival, the second consecutive year the event has succumbed to pressures brought by the COVID-19 outbreak. Board members said the pandemic has hurt the outlook for Høstfest in several ways: the tour business has been severely curtailed, travel concerns reduce the likelihood of attracting visitors from Scandinavia, the Canadian border may not yet be reopened by this fall, and patrons may be hesitant to resume gathering in large numbers under one roof.
Meanwhile, board members say they intend to use the next several months to reimagine the festival and will be meeting with executives from similar events from around the country to determine the best path forward for Norsk Høstfest.
David Reiten, who has been president of the Norsk Høstfest Association since 2011, has announced he is stepping down from that position. Reiten took over leadership of the festival from his late father, Chester, who helped found the event in 1978 and guided it through years of rapid growth and long-term success. David Reiten says his love for the festival remains, but adds that Høstfest will continue with great leadership. “After 40-plus years of a Reiten at the helm, it is time for someone else to take hold of the reins and guide Norsk Høstfest into the future.” Reiten says he and the entire Reiten family are thankful for all of the volunteers, vendors, entertainers, artists, and patrons who helped make the Høstfest into the largest Scandinavian festival in North America. “Without the contributions of thousands of people who make the event happen every year, the vision of Chester Reiten would never have been realized. We are grateful to all who have donated their time and talents over the decades and trust the volunteer spirit will continue for decades to come.”
The Board of Directors issued the following statement: “The city of Minot, the state of North Dakota, and the Scandinavian-American community at large owe the Reiten family an enormous debt of gratitude for the leadership and dedication poured into Norsk Høstfest over the decades. In his tenure, David Reiten rose to the challenges that changes in the entertainment industry have presented, and kept the celebration going nonetheless. On behalf of the board of directors, we thank him for a job well done — and pledge continuation of the Reiten legacy.”
Plans call for the 2022 Høstfest to be held in late September. Specific dates will be determined later this year.