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Celebration of countries: Icelander still takes pride in being Scandinavian

Imu Dinusson says Iceland isn't that different from the rest of Scandinavia - especially Norway, of which Iceland once was part. "There are a lot of things that still remain similar to Norway, things that they make, things that they cook," says D...

Imu Dinusson says Iceland isn't that different from the rest of Scandinavia - especially Norway, of which Iceland once was part.

"There are a lot of things that still remain similar to Norway, things that they make, things that they cook,"

says Dinusson.

Fortunately for her, that doesn't include lutefisk; "I don't like lutefisk," she says, adding quickly, "I do like lefse, however."

Still, even if Icelanders are more similar to than different from other Scandinavians, when she talks about her homeland the pride is evident in her voice.


That pride is undimmed by long residence in the United States, where she emigrated in 1944 after marrying her American-born husband, William Dinusson. They met when he was in the service and stationed in Iceland.

You can hear her pride when she talks about the food Iceland has instead of lutefisk - smoked lamb, Icelandic crepes and doughnuts, Icelandic bread and world-record salmon smoked to produce lox.

And it's not just the food and wildlife she's proud of; "Icelanders are very well-educated people," she says.

"They are a little reserved, but they are very, very hospitable. And the country itself is beautiful."

Dinusson and other area Icelanders, or people of Icelandic descent, will have a special place at this year's Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival, which spotlights the island nation.

This year's festival encourages people to "explore your world," in the words of its theme.

It's bringing in some high-powered help for people who want to do that: Viking Leifur Eiriksson (better known by his Norwegian name, Leif Eriksson will appear in the person of New York actor/scholar Rolf Stang) and polar explorer Will Steger.

Festival director Claudia Pratt says Eiriksson, one of the most famous of the Vikings, was born in Iceland but also is claimed as a historical figure by Norway.


Stang, who has portrayed Hans Christian Andersen and Edvard Grieg at past Hjemkomst festivals, also will be doing a number of programs at libraries in Fargo and Moorhead and will be at the HoDo from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, along with several other vikings.

Pratt says anyone wishing to go to the HoDo doesn't have to worry about the Norse berserkers trashing the place, though. "They're nice vikings," she says.

Polar explorer Steger will talk both about his own exploits and those of western Icelander Vilhj?lmur Stefansson, who grew up near Mountain, N.D., and attended the University of North Dakota.

Stefansson, who died at 83 in 1962, "was one of the most famous explorers of his time and period but also one of the most controversial," Pratt says. "He basically brought about new ways of studying people in anthropology."

Stefansson lived in the Arctic and found blue-eyed Inuits, which he theorized were a lost Nordic race. "It's still very controversial," Pratt says.

Steger "will talk about Vilhj?lmur Stefansson, but then he'll talk about his own explorations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, environmental issues, sharing what it's like to go across the continents by dog team," Pratt says.

Pratt says last year's festival drew 7,200 people, a 15 percent increase from the year before. She's expecting even more this year, with large groups from Winnipeg and Gimli, Man., and Mountain, "sort of the central core of Icelandic North America."

Readers can reach Forum reporter


Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541


The Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival begin with workshops Tuesday morning and ends Sunday with a 4:30 p.m. showing of an Icelandic film at the Fargo Theatre.

Some highlights include:

- Sm¸rbr¸d Luncheon and Craft Show, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Sons of Norway hall, 722 2nd St N, Fargo.

- "Leifur Eir?ksson," portrayal of the Vikings' most famous explorer by master storyteller, actor and scholar Rolf Stang, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Moorhead Public Library, 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday at the Fargo Public Library, 12:30 and 5:30 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Hjemkomst Center.

- Will Steger discusses his Arctic, Greenland & Antarctic voyages of discovery and the role early explorer Vilhj?lmur Stefansson played in Steger's own decision to join the Arctic elite, 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hjemkomst Center.

- "Sagas Meet Music," Viking stories come to life when youngsters learn to write their own musical saga with Icelandic pianist Jón Sigurdsson & Minnesota composer Wynn-Anne Rossi. Pre-registration is required by calling (218) 299-5452 and cost is $45 for 7-10 years old and $55 for 11-15 years old. The musicians will be at North Dakota State University Reineke Fine Arts Center from 9 to 10:30 a.m. for the younger group and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the older group Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


For more information and a schedule, go online at http://www.scandinavianhjemkomstfestival.org .

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