The newest Miss Norway and Miss Heritage of Greater New York were crowned at the Arthur Nilsen Banquet Hall at the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center on Saturday afternoon, April 8.
The event was sponsored by the Norwegian Immigration Association (NIA), which used the money raised from the luncheon where the competition took place to further education about Scandinavian culture.
This was the primary goal of Lars Nilsen, co-chair of NIA, who stressed that the event was more than a beauty contest. “The continuation of Norwegian traditions is carried mainly through women,” he said, adding, “Everyone wants to keep their culture alive even though they’re Americans.”
Each judge received a book with biographies of each contestant before the competition according to Nilsen, whose knowledge of Norwegian history in New York is both extensive and features everything from infrastructure to population.
“New York was the one of the third largest Norwegian speaking places in the world,” said Nilsen. According to Nilsen, most people’s idea of Norwegians before the NIA was founded in 1995 was of the Midwestern population.
Local activist Arlene Rutuelo, a first-time judge and co-chair of the 17th of May Norwegian Constitution Day Parade committee who lives a life deeply influenced by Norwegian culture, said the hardest part of the competition for her was “looking at the criteria and trying to choose. You want everyone to feel encouraged.”
Criteria for the competition, which the new Miss Norway Kristen Johnson and Miss Heritage Sophie Feldman met beyond expectations, included clothing, articulation, beauty and poise. Contestants must have Norwegian ancestry, and be unmarried to participate.
For the judges panel, Rutuelo said, “There’s more to beauty than just the external face” and the goal was really to understand the core of every contestant.
The competition itself was open to young women between the ages of 17 and 24. Other judges on the panel included Torunn Sneltvedt, Eric Bjornson, Robert McKeever and Lauren Benson, herself a former Miss Norway.
Rutuelo said she felt the competition was incredibly strong. Happy to see the number of contestants rise to eight, she mentioned her favorite part was “hearing why they’d thought they’d be a good Miss Norway.”
The Norwegian Christian Home is located at 1250 67th Street.