One of the popular pastimes in Scandinavia these days involves gathering around the television to watch Americans stumble through a cultural obstacle course as they get in touch with their Norwegian heritage.
And just as producers of "Alt for Norge" (or "The Great Norway Adventure," as it's called in the States) search for a new batch of Yanks to populate forthcoming episodes, comes word that a Minnesota woman is the winner of season five.
Contestants on the show are Americans of Norwegian descent who have never previously visited their ancestral homeland. For being the winner, Beth Butala of Bloomington gets $50,000 in cash and an in-person meeting with her Norwegian relatives.
You can learn more about Beth (seen at right) by reading her bio page on the show's website – but only if you speak Norwegian. Otherwise, you can check out her introductory video taped before she left Bloomington for her Norwegian adventure.
Norwegian American Weekly explained in a September item that the 12 contestants in season five arrived in Norway by helicopter to find skis, sleds, and winter camping gear waiting for them on a snowy mountaintop.
Subsequent adventures, the Weekly says, included a treasure hunt for Norwegian stereotypes, lessons in Norwegian culinary classics, and a celebration of Syttende Mai in Ålesund "...with wild russ celebrations, beautiful bunads, and patriotic singing."
Here's how "Alt for Norge" promoted season five. The cast also included Leah Perzichilli of St. Paul, who played for the Minnesota Valkyrie in the Lingerie Football League.
Blogger David Nikel, who came to Norway from Great Britain, writes for the website Life in Norway, that the show is:
Great entertainment for me at least – and I suspect all foreigners living in Norway – as the tasks they have to go through mirror my time in Norway so far. Being rubbish at cross-country skiing, attempting to navigate forest trails, learning Norwegian, trying brown cheese, fiskeboller and akevitt, and a whole lot more.
Nikel writes that in addition to such challenges as reciting Norwegian swear words while downing a beer, there is a more sentimental side to the show. The contestants, including Butala, typically receive letters from their Norwegian relatives that shed light on the family history and the hardships that led some to seek a new life in America.
Just as they did last year, the show's producers are holding an open casting call at the Mall of America in Beth Butala's home town.
If you can't make it to Bloomington this Saturday, Nov. 8, you can send an application and video to O'Connor Casting Company by Dec. 3.
Callbacks will be in Chicago in February. Casting producer Joan O'Connell told WCCO that last year's open casting at the mall produced one-third of the callback finalists.