Festinord ’75

by Ralph and Jane Reynolds

Print Share

    Six hundred young Latter-day Saints descended on Aalborg, Denmark, recently for a week-long youth conference known as Festinord ’75 (Festival of the North ’75). They came from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Many of them came at a considerable sacrifice. They spent their time in dances, roadshows, games, songs, athletic contests, and activities of all kinds, including some proselyting in downtown Aalborg. There were also seminars and workshops on gospel-related subjects. Perhaps most important, they spent their time establishing ties of brotherhood with one another.

    They stayed in two local schools and were fed by local members. The resources of the town were gladly put at their disposal by the mayor, who said, “The Mormons are one group that can be counted on to leave any place better than they found it.” They held a ball at the magnificent North Jutland Museum of Art, which was designed by three famous Scandinavian architects, Elissa and Alvar Aalto of Finland and Jean Jaques Baruël of Denmark. The town council had allowed the museum to be used as a ballroom only once before—at a ball honoring three prime ministers!

    Each group of young people displayed amazing talent and determination. The group from Tønsberg, Norway, was typical. They decided to build a ten-meter-long horse costume and do a dance in it for the circus to be held as part of the conference. It was impossible, of course. There were only four active youth in the town, and they needed ten people to fill the costume. Not only that, they had no building in which to build the costume and practice the dance. Being too hardheaded to simply give up, they promptly recruited non-Mormon youth to build and dance in the costume with them. They built the horse and practiced the dance in the open fields around Tønsberg, and when the time came, they all went to Festinord, members and nonmembers alike.

    Communication proved to be no problem for the young men and women of three nations. Their languages are similar enough that they could understand each other with some hard listening, and whenever that didn’t work, they simply switched to English, a language in which they all were fluent.

    As a result of Festinord, the people of Aalborg have a warm feeling for the Church, while the young people, many from very small branches, were strengthened by their association with one another. Per Herry from Frolunoa, Sweden, said it all: “It’s wonderful to have a festival with so many LDS people.”

    Photos by Ralph and Jane Reynolds

    Sister Stein-Erick Jensen and her husband were in charge of the Norwegian group of 111 youth

    A pool reflects the flags of many nations as people begin arriving for their day’s work on one of Aalborg’s walking streets

    A Czechoslovakian refugee and six-year member of the Church, Valentina Roletzka from Göteborg, Sweden, coached another girl to perform a Charlie Chaplin act for the roadshows. A talented musician, Valentina plays the harp for her high school orchestra and translates lyrics from her native language into Swedish. She is presently translating an opera. She spent much of her free time at Festinord crocheting a blue scarf for the ball

    All the youth spent a few hours proselyting on Aalborg’s downtown streets. They worked in threes, one from each of the countries involved. Here Gilte Markmann (back to the camera), Denmark; Sonya Nilsson, Sweden; and Mary Louise Halbostard, Norway answer questions about Mormonism

    Lee Ramer, Göteborg, Sweden

    Scandinavian youth get acquainted on the first day of the conference as they follow a professional guide on a walking tour. The guide spoke English, since all the young people spoke it fluently

    Jane Pedersen, 17, and Fleming Klitgaard, 16, emerge from a bakery to reboard their bus. On their way to Frederikshavn to greet the Swedish youth arriving by boat, they have stopped at the bakery to catch up on the breakfast they missed by meeting the boat from Norway early in the morning

    Lis Nielsen, Young Women director of the Copenhagen Denmark Stake

    Margareta Mattsson helps her husband Albert learn the solo he will sing in the roadshows. Margareta was converted 15 years ago when she went to MIA with a friend to learn English

    Arne Herberg leads the Swedish group in singing “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” in Swedish as they wait for a bus at the dock in Frederikshavn. After staying up till 2:00 A.M. finishing scenery and costumes, taking a three-hour boat trip the next morning, and then waiting two and a half hours for the bus, they are tired. Since food on the boat was too expensive for most of them, they are hungry, too

    Small, multi-colored houses intrigued the youth during walking tours of the winding streets in downtown Aalborg

    There are few Mormons in Frolunoa, Sweden, the hometown of Per Herry. Although the members of his family are all Mormons, there are only four deacons and three priests. “It’s wonderful to have a festival with so many LDS young people,” he says

    The Swedish (blue and yellow) and the Danish (red and white) junior teams meet on the football field

    At the beginning of the circus, Danish youth dance with huge letters that finally were attached to the back wall of the stage, spelling Festinord ’75

    Bjarne Osorgaard, 17, of the Danish junior team, warms up before the football (American soccer) match. Bjarne, who plans to study business computers, scored Denmark’s only goal against the Swedish team

    The town council and the mayor cooperated in every way. They even hung international flags in downtown Aalborg in honor of Festinord ’75. The mayor also spoke at the beginning of the roadshows

    Elder Hooper (closest to camera) and Elder Horch approach townspeople on an Aalborg walking street. They are giving away tickets to the roadshows and circus to people who are genuinely interested and promise to come. Over 2,000 townspeople showed up for each event

    Elder Bentley and Elder Hallmark stop some young people on Bispengade, a walking street in downtown Aalborg

    Folk dancers from Copenhagen execute a Spanish dance. The group performed dances of many nations at the circus in the Aalborghallen (Aalborg City Hall)

    Katherine Carlson, a Swedish ballet dancer, performed in a roadshow and also came in first in the girls’ 60-meter race

    There were all kinds of races at the picnic near the beach town of Saeby. In this one a shingle must be placed under the contestant’s foot as he takes each step

    Margaret Malm, a ballet dancer from Sweden, danced beautifully in the roadshows and played handball in the games

    Each contestant grasps an axle with a single wheel in one of the more difficult races at the picnic

    Christina Carlson of Sweden has been a member all her life. Her mother and brothers are members, but her father has not joined yet. She danced in the roadshows and came in fourth in the 60-meter race

    A quick glimpse into another bus as the two busses pass each other carrying youth to different events

    Young swimmers turn in a fast freestyle lap in the swimming competition that attracted dozens of contestants. During intermission the crowd was entertained by skillful Danish clown divers. An American girl, Susan Jones, staying in Stavanger, Norway, swam for the Norwegian team

    Contestants put their hearts into a sack race at the picnic, which also included, among other things, a dance on the lawn, a picnic lunch, and rowboat rides on a small, meandering river

    An old man suns himself in his small, second-story apartment window at the end of the day. He was drawn to the window by the beautiful flags of all nations hanging above the street

    Jørgen Mengshall, Tønsberg, Norway, masterminded the 10-meter dancing horse that held ten youth. Six of the people inside the horse were non-Mormons invited by Jørgen to participate

    Anders Tageson, Göteborg, Sweden, resting after a race at the track meet

    Four young ladies strain for speed in the 60-meter race

    Margaret Malm

    The Festinord visitors have left the picturesque streets of Aalborg behind, but they have taken with them to every corner of Scandinavia new reserves of love, achievement, and understanding