Icelandic Prime Minister attends Icelandic summer festival in US

Icelandic prime minister, Geir Haarde, met last weekend with a community in North Dakota famous for its Icelandic roots. The 108th annual Deuce of August Icelandic celebration was held in Mountain, North Dakota, over the weekend and saw record crowds thanks in part to the prime minister’s presence.

Geir Haarde was joined by Governor John Hoeven, who welcomed Icelandic officials to the event. “North Dakota is legendary for its hospitality,” said the Icelandic Prime Minister. “What happens in North Dakota is important to Iceland and we want to remain in contact. What is done here every year in Mountain helps the relationship between Iceland and North Dakota.”

Following the speeches, Geir Haarde invited Governor Hoeven to Iceland. “We’d like to have him come over,” Haarde said. “Not many states in the US have this direct connection with Iceland. Therefore, we value it. We treasure it.”

Although the town of Mountain is a small community of less than 200, it still remembers its Icelandic heritage which began in 1878 when settlers from Iceland founded the town.

“It’s the epicentre of the Icelandic community here,” said Curtis Olafson, president of the Icelandic Communities Association and resident of Mountain. “There has been a resurgence in Iceland to find out more about western migration.”

In fact over 200 residents of Iceland made the trip over the ocean to visit the small town and join in the festivities. “That is normally about how many we have,” Olafson said. “They are fascinated by our way of life here.”

The annual Deuce of August festival sees hundreds of people flock from all over North Dakota to enjoy a fully-packed weekend of food, dancing, music and presentations on Icelandic history and culture.

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