Lutheran churches gear up for festival | News, Sports, Jobs
The smell of Norsk Hoøstfest wafted through a few of Minot’s Lutheran churches last week as their congregations prepare for one of their biggest fundraisers.
The First Lutheran Church has provided a Scandinavian pudding called rømmegrøt at Norsk Høstfest since the festival began. Christ Lutheran has been making potato klub, a form of dumpling, for just as long, and with the merger of Augustana Lutheran after the 2011 flood, it also incorporated the Augustana rice pudding tradition. Bethany Lutheran is known for her lutefisk and meatball dinner, her Scandinavian cookies and her sot supe, or sweet soup.
Høstfest grew out of Minot Lutheran Churches’ celebration of the 150th anniversary of Norwegian immigration in 1975, and food has always been part of the party.
Dennis Helgeson stirs a pot of thick rømmegrøt on the stove during the September 21 Lutheran premiere, the second of five days of volunteer cooking.
“It’s a good workout for the arm,” said Helgeson, who added that volunteer work is a lot of fun because of the company of co-workers.
Raymond and Mary Ann Brey from Las Vegas were visiting family in Minot last week, so they decided to help make some rømmegrøt. Mary Ann Brey said her first taste of rømmegrøt was at Norsk Høstfest.
“We only went once and only stayed a few hours” she says. “So I tasted everything and this was one of them. But it’s the first time I’ve done it. It’s really interesting.”
Project coordinator Roxanne Maragos said nearly 60 volunteers were needed to produce the 200 gallons of rømmegrøt sold at Høstfest, and around 170 volunteers in total to tackle the project from making the pudding to selling it. at the Hostfest stand. Maragos said a former coordinator came up with the idea of selling takeout rømmegrøt by the pint, and it was a success.
“Now it’s a big part of the sales. People like to buy it, take it home. It freezes very well” said Maragos. “Just heat it up and put some melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in it.”
September 15 at Christ Lutheran, 10 pots of boiled potatoes on the stove, tended by Mike Rystedt. It was the first of three days of cooking. Like Helgeson, Rystedt said camaraderie is what makes work fun.
“It’s a very messy job but you do it because of your friends,” said Rystedt. “It takes a lot of volunteers to do this.
Volunteer Ed Zumbaum said he enjoys helping make the club because he enjoys visiting his co-workers and finds the club delightful. Moreover, he knows that he supports the missions of his church through his efforts.
“It’s a good fundraiser” he said.
Brad Bohan, co-chair with Al Hanson on the project, said people often don’t realize the energy it takes to deliver a potato club at Norsk Høstfest.
“It’s really a project” he said.
It started on September 14 by picking up 4,800 pounds of fresh potatoes from the Kasowski Farms field near Karlsruhe. Over the next three days, Christ Lutheran volunteers peeled, cut and ground potatoes and created the dumplings with the addition of cut ham. Working three to four hour shifts, volunteers have frozen 4,000 servings of the klub which will be heated and transported to Høstfest.
Rice pudding is prepared at Høstfest, although there is some preparation involved in arranging the ingredients at hand.
“We also sell it to take away for people to stop in and buy pints of it while they cook,” said Bohan, who estimated that 50 takeout bags are sold every day. The Potato Club is also sold in six servings to go as long as supplies are available.
Hanson said the church held a dinner last year, serving 1,000 klub, as there was no Høstfest due to the pandemic.
A Bethany Lutheran group has been meeting to bake cookies for the past two weeks, while others have ensured that supplies are ordered and equipment is transferred to the site, where the baking of the sot supp begins Monday. Organizers expect to make 15 gallons of soup to serve their Høstfest guests.
Bethany will be serving the lutefisk and meatball dinner that it has been offering for many years since Trinity Health discontinued and passed on its equipment. Lutefisk’s 800 pounds are shipped from Minneapolis.
The church also provides fresh biscuits and gravy every Høstfest day at its stall along with the soup and biscuits. Between her two stands, Bethany needs 25 to 28 people for each three or four hour shift at Høstfest.
Coordination of the entire project, led by President Shanon Polsfut, began in June.
Minot Lutheran churches will see the culmination of their efforts next week. Norsk Høstfest begins September 28 and ends October 1 at the North Dakota State Fair Center.