Discover Minnesota's Viking past at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center, in Moorhead, Minnesota. Hjemkomst Center first opened in 1985 and is home to Hjemkomst Viking Ship, Hopperstad Stave Church replica, and arranges events around the Scandinavian culture.
''Hjemkomst', a Norwegian Viking ship
The Hjemkomst (meaning homecoming in Norwegian) is a handmade replica of a burial Viking ship called the Gokstad that was discovered in Norway in 1880. The Gokstad had been unearthed from a burial mound near Sandefjord, Norway and was dated back to 800 AD. Robert Asp, a guidance counselor at Moorhead Junior High School, was inspired by the discovery. After reading a few books about Vikings, he decided to build his own replica in honor of his Nordic heritage. He began working on Hjemkomst in 1974 at the Leslie Welter Potato Warehouse in Hawley, Minnesota. Unfortunately, Asp was diagnosed with leukemia and died before the ship was completed, but his children chose to achieve his dream.
In July of 1980, the ship was sent to Duluth to prepare its journey across the Atlantic Ocean. In May 1982, Asp's three sons and daughter along with eight crew members finally set sail to Bergen, Norway where they arrived in July. The ship stayed in Oslo for a year and was taken back to Minnesota and is now permanently housed in the park of the Hjemkomst Center.
The Hopperstad Stave Church replica
In the backyard of the Hjemkomst Center, discover another wooden masterpiece: the Hopperstad Stave Church Replica, a Norwegian stave church, built in 1998 by Guy Paulson, a retired researcher from North Dakota State University. It is a full-scale cedar, redwood, and pine replica of the 12th Century Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, Norway.
Join the Scandinavian Hjemkomst & Midwest Viking Festival
The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County and Nordic Culture Clubs organizes Scandinavian Hjemkomst & Midwest Viking Festival every year in June. From the forested lakes of Finland through the Norwegian fjords to the shores of Iceland, they bring together an international collection of chefs, artists, musicians, storytellers, historians, and vendors to fully immerse you in the Nordic roots that planted themselves so prominently in the Red River Valley communities.
Join the festival and explore the Nordic Marketplace, where you can shop for Scandinavian imports and explore life in the North Atlantic from saga storytellers to Hardanger fiddlers. In the auditorium, taste Nordic savors, like smoked salmon, æbleskiver, lefse and lingonberries.
Outside in the Viking village, dance around the maypole, play the crazy medieval games, try your shot in the Viking archery range, check out Viking Age artisans and vendors, and enjoy Viking battle demos staged in Viking Ship Park. Make sur to try a Viking-themed brews at the Minnesota's HammerHeart Brewing.