Locals compete for ‘Miss Norway’ crown at annual Ridge contest

Locals compete for ‘Miss Norway’ crown at annual Ridge contest
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Call these girls Vi-queens!

Seven young women strode across the stage of Bay Ridge’s Norwegian Christian Home on 67th Street in their finest evening gowns as they competed for the title of “Miss Norway” at the Norwegian Immigration Association’s 63rd annual contest on March 24. But the contest wasn’t your run-of-the-mill pageant, according to the event co-chair, because the contestants are actually judged on their ability to act as a link between the Scandinavian country and the U.S., rather than on their appearance.

“We emphasize that it’s not a beauty contest — we look for the best representative of Norwegian-American culture,” said Lars Nilsen, one of the five judges of the event.

The women, ages 17–24, penned essays about their Norwegian heritage, from which the judges crafted individualized questions for the contestants, Nilsen said, adding that the women’s responses help give judges a sense of their ability to represent their culture to those outside of it.

“These are young women who are very eager, and they express themselves well, and the judges look for the best one that would represent the community,” he said.

A native of Long Island ultimately took home the crown, and said the experience was much more nerve-wracking — and thought provoking — than she expected.

“It was very exciting — nothing like I expected, but very rewarding,” said “Miss Norway” Liv Gerda Halvorsen. “I had never done anything like that, but it was way more about your heritage than anything like beauty or anything like that.”

But the butterflies were worth it. Gerda Halvorsen also took home the title’s coveted prize: a round-trip ticket to Norway, which she plans to use to visit family in Oslo this summer with some friends after she graduates high school, she said.

And a younger contestant took home a title as well — 9-year-old Bath Beach resident Ashley Campbell beat out one other wee Norwegian to become “Little Miss Norway” after eloquently discussing her family’s heritage, according to her mother, Signe, who said she entered on a lark.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but she said, ‘I’ll try it.’ ”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.