Reitens donate half-million to Høstfest's future

September 28, 2017

The five children of the late Chester and Joy Reiten presented a joint gift of $500,000 to the Høstfest Heritage Foundation during the 40th Norsk Høstfest. The donation was in honor of the memory of their parents and help to secure for future generations the festival that meant so much to them in their lifetime.

Chester Reiten was a principal founder of the internationally-known Norsk Høstfest, which celebrated its 40th year in 2017, and served as president from the time of its inception until his death in 2013 at age 89. Chester and his wife, Joy, who passed away in 2015, were the face and heart of the annual celebration as well as ambassadors for the city of Minot in its relationship with its sister city, Skien, Telemark, Norway. The Reitens made many trips to the country of their heritage over the years, meeting with dignitaries and many members of royalty. His Majesty King Harald V of Norway personally awarded Chester Reiten the coveted St. Olav Medal for Norsk Høstfest's contributions to Norwegian-American culture.

Whereas the mission of Norsk Høstfest is to preserve, promote and celebrate Scandinavian heritage in North America, the mission of the Høstfest Heritage Foundation is to preserve the organization itself, primarily through charitable gifts. David Reiten, who succeeded his father Chester as president of Norsk Høstfest said, “The legacy of Høstfest is one of tradition, family values, and faith in God. Our donation will assure that future generations will also have access to those foundational tenents of their forefathers. It is also our way of showing respect and appreciation for those who first had the vision 40 years ago including Chester and Joy.”

All five children of Chester and Joy – Steven Reiten, David Reiten, Kathleen Reiten Hruby, Timothy Reiten and Melanie Reiten Shonkwiler – were in Minot for the presentation, which took place during the festival on Thursday, September 29 at 7:30 pm in the Great Hall of the Vikings.

The 40th annual Norsk Høstfest ran September 27 – 30 at the North Dakota State Fair Center. More details on the festival can be found at Information on the Høstfest Heritage Foundation, including how to donate, is available at