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RVers Converge on Minot, N.D., for Annual Hostfest

September 23, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

More than a dozen early arrivals had staked their claim to camping areas on the Noth Dakota State Fairgrounds by mid-afternoon Tuesday (Sept. 22). Other motorhomes could be seen arriving later in the day, all for the purpose of settling in before the start of Hostfest.

The popular Scandinavian heritage festival runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, according to the Minot (N.D.) Daily News.

“Arriving early is part of the fun. By tomorrow (Wednesday) and the next day there will be a lot more coming in early,” said Margaret Gjerstad, of Mott. “We look forward to the fellowship and the fun before everything starts. My husband helps park the RVs and I help at the RV Hospitality Center.”

The Gjerstads were flying the Norwegian flag above their spacious motorhome on Tuesday, alerting everyone to their heritage and purpose for attending Hstfest. They’ve been doing so for 21 years and, like so many others, look forward each year to the nationally acclaimed event. This year’s Hstfest appears to be on its way to setting a record for the total number of RVs.

“We’re having a very successful year. We’re expecting between 1,300 and 1,500 on the grounds. Right now we’ve got a total of 5,400 RV nights, approaching full capacity,” said Hostfest official Rich Anhorn.

“That’s the way I understand it, too,” said Gjerstad. “I’m not sure, but apparently it could be setting an all-time record.”

Area campgrounds usually fill to capacity during Hostfest and that is expected to be the case again this year. Fort Stevenson State Park south of Garrison, which normally closes its full-service season Oct. 1, has agreed to remain open with complete camper hook-ups through Oct. 5 in order to handle any overflow from Hstfest.

One factor perhaps influencing the expected increase in RV traffic was the moving up of the dates for Hostfest. This marks the second year of an earlier run for the event. Not only does the earlier schedule make it less likely that the Hostfest will encounter some of the early winter weather that blanketed festivities in the past, but it also is more accommodating for many RVers eager to migrate to a warmer climate for the winter.

“They do like the earlier dates because, for a certain percentage, this is their stopping point on the way south to their winter areas,” said Anhorn. “It works out very well for them. Next year we move up one more day, to Sept. 28.”

Anhorn stressed that, as of Tuesday afternoon, Hostfest still had room for 200 to 300 motorhome “drive-ins.” Virtually every portion of the fairgrounds is used for RV parking. However, a few regular spots were lost this year due to continuing construction on the new grandstand for the State Fair.

Don’t look for the fairgrounds to empty completely once Hostfest comes to an end. Some of the RVers who attend Hstfest stay in place and attend the rodeo the following weekend.

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons opens this year’s Hostfest at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the Great Hall of the Vikings.

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