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Heritage from the homeland

Jorgen Karlsrud poses for a photo at the opening of a Moods of Norway store. (Republican Eagle photo by Stacy Bengs)

A wooden chest carrying the entirety of a family's possessions had a single name scratched into the front: Jorgen G. Karlsrud.

Today the name Jorgen Karlsrud belongs to a man working for an advertising agency in Minneapolis who recently had a unique opportunity to get in touch with his family's roots.

Karlsrud, who grew up in Red Wing and is a 2003 graduate of Red Wing High School, inherited his name from a great-grandfather who inscribed the name into the trunk that still sits in his family's home.

A television commercial for a casting agency looking for Americans with Norwegian descent piqued his interest.

He sent in an application, got a call for an on-camera interview in Chicago and shortly after he was packing his bags for Norway.

When Karlsrud, along with the 11 others on the show, landed in Norway's capital of Oslo there was a big media day, he said.

"[The show] is a huge deal. That's what I didn't understand," Karlsrud said. The past two years the show has won the Gullruten Award for best reality series, which is the equivalent of an Emmy.

The show features Norwegian-Americans who have never been to Norway competing in Norwegian-based challenges, Karlsrud said.

For the first task, three teams of four had to find out as much about Norwegian culture as they could by walking around and talking to the locals.

Immediately Karlsrud said he realized how far removed from his heritage he was.

He said it didn't take too long to get adjusted to the filming, however.

"It was really strange to be followed around with cameras," he said. "But we all got used to it pretty quick."

A typical day of filming would start at 7 a.m. and finish around 7 p.m. with a lot of waiting around in the middle.

Playing the waiting game really wasn't all that bad, Karlsrud said, considering all the picturesque places they had to enjoy during the filming.

During the filming of an episode each contestant would be given little bits and pieces about their own families in Norway, which Karlsrud said was the main draw to going on the show. There is a cash prize that goes to the winner, but he said no one talked about it because it didn't mean nearly as much as getting in touch with family.

The fourth season of "Alt for Norge" — which translates to "All for Norway," — is currently airing on Norwegian television and the third of 10 episodes will air on Sunday. Karlsrud said in about two months when the show is done airing in Norway it will be available for anyone to view online.