As early as 1985, a group of Minot area persons of Icelandic descent with an interest in promoting the Icelandic heritage began having coffee gatherings.
On august 18, 1985 a news release to announce the organization of the Icelandic Heritage Society was printed in the Minot Daily News, newspapers in Icelandic communities in northern part of North Dakota as wall as the Icelandic-Canadian weekly paper, Loberg-Heimskringla in Winnipeg, Canada.
The organizational meeting was held October 15, 1985 at Sheraton-Riverside Inn.
The elected officers were:
President – Dr. Keith Stinson
Vice-president – Sallyh Stinson
Secretary – Doralyn Brown
Treasure – Jim Goodman
The annual meetings are held during Kaffe Samkoma, in conjunction with Norsk Hostfest.
The finances for the organization are tome from donations from persons showing an interest in the organization, plus the sale of note cards, Christmas cards and napkins of original deigns, pins, spoons and other items. Annual dues of $5.00 are collected each October and in 1994 showed 35 paid members.
The October 1986 Kaffe Samkoma was highlighted with a visit from Miss World, Hofi Karlsdottier, from Iceland. The attendance was impressive.
The purpose of the Icelandic Heritage Society is to promote the Icelandic heritage and acquaint third and fourth generation persons of Icelandic descent with foods, customs, sagas, dress and music. The monthly meetings, as well as the annual gatherings, pot luck meals and socials usually include speakers; slide shows, videos, personal family histories, musicians and singers.
The mailing list includes 410 persons with addresses in all parts of North America, Canada and as far away as Switzerland. A newsletter is sent out three times a year to current members.
A representative of the Icelandic Society attends the weekly meetings of the Scandinavian Heritage Association The Scandinavian Heritage Association is comprised of persons representing all five Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. With common goal of promoting and preserving their heritage, the Scandinavian Heritage Park is being erected at the site of the Shirley Bicentennial Park in Minot, and will be the only park in the world that is represented by all the Nordic Countries.
On October 29, 1992 the flags of the countries along with the United States flag and Canadian flag were erected. The Icelandic Ambassador to the United States, Honorable Tomas Tomasson dedicated the Icelandic flag. The flag was donated by the family of Ernest and Theodora Goodman, emigrants from Iceland and pioneers from the Mouse River Community near Upham, North Dakota.
The largest project undertaken by the Icelandic Society was the erection of the seven foot and half inch bronze statue of Leifur Eriiksson in the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot. The funds for this large undertaking came from private donations, hot dogs and bratwurst stand, food booth during Tivoli Festival in June and the operation of the Icelandic Food Booth during Norsk Hostfest in October.
The statue was erected and unveiled October 1993 and dedicated October 1994. The dedication address was to be given the Honorable Birgir Brynjolfsson.