Wednesday, 17 June 2015

American-Norwegian history in the Lister region

The Lister region is an area in southern Norway that includes four local governments - Kvinesdal, Farsund, Lyngdal and Flekkefjord. Two of these, Kvinesdal and Farsund have a very close nit relationship with the United States.

Many locals in these areas moved to the United States for work during the “poor times” in Norway and in fact, my father in law did the same with his three brothers.  He moved to New York and loved there for about 15 years building houses. He met his wife in Manhattan and she moved to Norway with their five children whilst he worked hard framing buildings.

He came back to Norway regularly on holidays to spend time with his family and eventually moved back to Norway permanently. He brought back with him a few trunks full of American clothes, white goods, an Amish wagon, boat and a car.

This was common practice for those returning from America. Many brought back items as well as wives. The local Norwegian population, particularly the women, were a little shocked. The American women had make up, nice dresses, high heels and other fashion accessories that the local Norwegian girls did not, so there was a little jealousy in those days.

American Farsund
Farsund has dedicated a festival to mark the relationship between it and the United States. It usually takes place in the final week of June and has been a huge success since 2008. They have a Route 8 road, an American store called “Trunken”, an American local bar and restaurant as well as American flags hoisted up in businesses and houses. Don't be surprised if every second car you see on the road in from the US!

American Kvinesdal
Back in the 80’s, a survey found that 10% of local residents in Kvinesdal were American citizens. That is a massive number for a little place like Kvinesdal. If you go into the American Emigration Museum called “Utvandrermuseet” you can read letters, newspapers and see pictures of people that took the long journey by boat over to the US. There were even some locals from Kvinesdal that found in the Second World War for the United States as part of the Allied forces.

Kvinesdal also has a festival to celebrate this close relationship that is called the Utvandrerfestival. It takes place over 29th of June to the 6th of July – where there is food, concerts, films and the museum if of course open.

In the main street of Kvinesdal, there is a store that has a large selection of American foods including, salads, dressings, drinks and meats. The staff speak English.

If you have time to visit Farsund or Kvinesdal during their American festivals, please do so. 
You will not regret it and it is a lot of fun for the whole family.

Adam Read Visit Sørlandet

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