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Happy Ag Day!

I’ve just learned that its Ag Day 2013 which has inspired me to get back to blogging. I’m sorry for the long lag!

Being a North Dakotan who was raised rural, I often forget that others don’t have a familiarity with the beauty of agriculture and the enormity of farm production. I’m from the Red River Valley, an area known for its fertile farm lands. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than miles of plush, green fields, for as far as the eye can see. Visitors to North Dakota frequently call the Tourism Division and ask about the types of crops they’re seeing in the state. Whether its fields of blooming purple flowers (flax), small yellow flowers (canola) or those photogenic sunflowers, we love to help our visitors learn more about the scenery they’ll find here.

sunflowers

Agriculture is North Dakota’s #1 industry. According to research at North Dakota State University, it contributed $7.8 billion to the state’s economy in 2011. And North Dakota leads the nation in production of sunflowers, barley, dry edible beans, pinto beans, canola, flaxseed, honey, lentils, dry edible peas, durum wheat and spring wheat.

So I’m sharing a bit about North Dakota’s agriculture today and there are three tourism-related spins that I want to put on this #1 industry: 1) how to enjoy the beauty; 2) how to enjoy the production; and 3) how to learn more and experience agriculture.

Enjoy the Beauty

Knee high by the 4th of July? This is my family, in the Red River Valley, late June, 2012.

Knee high by the 4th of July? This is my family, in the Red River Valley, late June, 2012.

Agriculture, including ranching, is everywhere in North Dakota, covering approximately 39.2 million acres. Any spring, summer or fall trip through the state and you’re guaranteed to see the land in some phase of production. Most spring planting occurs in April and May, with harvest spanning a wide time frame, depending on the crop. Harvest takes place anywhere between July and November. Visitors can journey throughout North Dakota and also make stops at specific farms and gardens, such as Dakota Sun Gardens near Carrington and Black Leg Ranch near Bismarck – where you can even saddle up for your tour. Photo opportunities are plentiful!

Enjoy the Production

THIS is where agriculture gets yummy! Consider for a moment the Red Barn and Berry Farm near Kindred. Here you can pick raspberries and even nibble as you go – without fear of being weighed on your way out! Farmer’s Markets can be found in cities large-and-small, like the Town Square Farmers Market in Grand Forks – taking place Saturdays mid-June through September. And check out the North Dakota products marketed by Pride of Dakota! You’ll find everything from delicious Dakota Growers Pasta to lotions made of honey.

Learn More

harvest07-5Agriculture in North Dakota has history. Visitors can relive farming on the prairie at Bonanzaville in West Fargo or experience what a northern “plantation” was like at the Bagg Bonanza Farm near Mooreton. And if ranching is more your interest, there’s no better place than the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora. Not just a hall of honorees! This museum celebrates western heritage and culture.

Interested in the scientific side of agriculture? Visit the Langdon Research Extension Center or the North Central Research Extension Center of Minot and see how tests are being done to maintain and improve the industry.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, North Dakota has opportunities for that too! GardenDwellers Farm of Esmond has classes, events and “group play” in production of herbs. Sheer sheep and spin your own wool at Wooly Girls, near Wales. Get your feet dirty at the Red Trail Vineyard Harvest Festival and Grape Stomp.

 

Celebrate Ag

Milking a cow at the North Dakota State Fair

Milking a cow at the North Dakota State Fair

Okay … I’m going to throw in a fourth way to enjoy agriculture in North Dakota and that’s in celebration. Here you can find festivals for rhubarb, chokecherries, apples, sauerkraut, lefse, ribs, turkeys, watermelon, sunflowers, corn, potatoes and even lobster. The North Dakota State Fair has competitive exhibiting (and great entertainment). There’s also a huge annual event called the Big Iron Farm Show that draws more than 80,000 people.

 

Agriculture and tourism blend together brilliantly in North Dakota. In fact, we have an AgriTourism program helping connect travelers to all these ways to experience the industry and helping producers expand their businesses by offering tourism components. Learn more online.

 

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Last Minute Vacation Planning

As the summer is winding down and students are gearing up to go back to school, you may find yourself wanting to go on one last vacation before summer is over. Since North Dakota has a lot to offer, you are in luck because there are still a ton of fun things going on! Check out upcoming events in North Dakota:

Grand Forks is having their annual Rollin’ on the River event August 24-25! The weekend kicks off on Friday with a Keep the Ball Rollin’ Golf Tournament at King’s Walk Golf Course and Rockin’ Rollin’ Rally & Feast in Lincoln Drive Park at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Rollin’ on the River inline skating marathon takes place on the city streets of Grand Forks, with the Alerus Center as the starting point at 7:30 a.m. You can also enjoy an evening of great blues music in the heart of beautiful downtown Grand Forks at the Blues on the Red Music Fest event. Top musicians from around the country will provide the free entertainment, while vendors sell such delicious cuisine.

Check out central North Dakota and see all the fun things going on. In Minot, the North Dakota State Fairgrounds play host to Motor Magic, Labor Day weekend in Minot. The largest motorsports event in the Upper Midwest, Motor Magic provides entertainment for auto enthusiasts of all ages. Nodak Speedway races and drag racing on the Magic City International Dragway kick off the motor mayhem. Motor Magic continues with more to see and do Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

If you want to head to the Bismarck-Mandan area, Mandan is hosting its annual Wild West Grillfest! Celebrate Mandan’s farming and ranching heritage with a grilling competition, beer gardens, a variety of live entertainment all day, inflatable games, hayrides, art and craft vendor booths, Pride of Dakota tent and dance Friday night on August 17-18. There will be live music by The Roosters on Friday and Dirty Word on Saturday.

Or you can head west to Medora to see all the funs things they have to offer. The Medora Musical is a great show that goes through September 8. Stop in for a great meal at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue or maybe play a round of golf on the world renowned Bully Pulpit.  Maybe you just want to do a little hiking; well Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a great place to explore with the whole family or as private getaway!

For more events and attractions, go to the North Dakota Tourism website. Who knows what kind of adventure is out there for you!

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, Family Fun

 

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2012 London Olympics

 

As the week comes to a close, our eyes turn to the 2012 London Olympic Games. Although there are no athletes originally from North Dakota competing in the games, there are several college alumni to root for! Athletes include former North Dakota State University standout Amanda (Thieschafer) Smock and Dickinson State University’s Ramon Miller, Derrick Atkins and Trevor Barry.

Smock, originally from Melrose, Minn., attended NDSU from 2001-2004 and was a three-time NCAA Division II national champion and 13-time All-American. Smock holds the NDSU outdoor triple jump record of 43 feet, ½ inch and indoor triple jump record of 42 feet, 4½ inches. She qualified for the Olympic triple jump in June, booking her trip to London with a winning 45-9 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Women’s triple jump preliminaries will be August 3 at 4:25 a.m., CDT.

A pair of Bahamian sprinters and a jumper formerly at Dickinson State also will be competing in track and field.

Miller, a 15-time NAIA All-American, will represent the Bahamas in both the 200-meter and 400-meter dash. Miller set the DSU school record of 45.42 in the 400 in 2009. The first round of the men’s 200-meter dash is August 7 at 5:50 a.m. and the first round of the men’s 400-meter will be August 4 at 4:35 a.m.

Former Blue Hawk Derrick Atkins will be competing in the men’s 100-meter dash and Trevor Barry will be competing in the men’s high jump. Atkins set the DSU school record of 20.81 in the 200-meter dash in 2005. The men’s 100-meter preliminaries start August 4 at 4 a.m.

Barry, who in 2006 set DSU records in the long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 8 inches and the high jump with a 7-3 inches, will be begin high jump prelims on August 5 at 1:05 p.m.

If these Olympians inspire you, North Dakota has several competitions coming up. The Bismarck Marathon is September 15 and offers a full or half marathon, full marathon relay, 10-K or 5-K run. The Maah Daah Hey 100 mountain bike race though the Badlands August 18 concludes in Medora.

For more events and races around North Dakota, check out our website at http://www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/.

 

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It’s State Fair Week

Concerts … food … carnival … exhibits … food … free entertainment … competitions … food … It’s State Fair Week!  Get to Minot for the return of the North Dakota State Fair!  Last year’s flooding in Minot forced the cancellation of the State Fair which is back and bigger than ever in 2012.

Through July 28, guests will find days and nights full of entertainment, food and fun! Upcoming concert headliners include the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chris Young, Blake Shelton and Foreigner.  Plus, there are a ton of free stage acts like the Swampmaster Alligator Show and Comic Ventriliquist.

Families will find SO much to do!  Are you registered for the Cloverdale Hot Dog Eating Contest?  How about the Kids Cupcake Decorating Contest?  Every day, head to the ND Game & Fish Skills Park for hands-on tries at fishing, archery and trapping.  Looking for some deals this week? No problem – the State Fair has them posted online.

And did I mention food?!  With the Fair comes so much yummy goodness!  This year a team of fearless eaters had the super tough job of tasting all the new foods on the midway.  Check out the results … while I apply to be on the judging committee next year.

When visiting the North Dakota State Fair, be sure to take lots of pictures and then upload them to Flickr in order to enter the first ever ND State Fair Flickr Photo Contest! Your photo could win you $500!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, Family Fun

 

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Horse racing is back!

I haven’t yet had the chance to experience live horse racing in North Dakota and it’s one thing that I really want to do. I’ve driven past the North Dakota Horse Park – north of Fargo – and it looks so cool with impeccible buildings and those pretty white fences. I do kind of picture myself with an amazing hat and dress picking all the right horses to bet on. But that’s a post for after I’ve gotten there AND picked all the right horses while wearing an amazing hat and dress.

THIS post is to inform you that racing is BACK in North Dakota!  After a two-year hiatus, live racing returns July 14-15 and July 21-22.  Admission is just $3.00 with kids 12 and under admitted free.  Nine races take place each day and they do have cool names like “Josies Little Outlaw” and “Rulers Tribute.”

Want two more reasons to head to Fargo? Thru July 15 the Red River Valley Fair is taking place in West Fargo – with midway, live entertainment, kids fun and so much more! And the downtown Fargo Street Fair with crafts, vendors and delish food takes place July 19-21.

Have racing fever? North Dakota has auto tracks too. From Bottineau to Wishek to can enjoy rip-roarin’ fun!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Attractions, Events

 

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A Weekend of Softball, Sweat and Shenanigans

The 37th Annual Sam McQuade Sr./Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament was played last weekend in Bismarck-Mandan. For those unfamiliar with this exciting event, it is a men’s and women’s softball tournament that draws around 400 teams from the United States and Canada. It has even featured games between soldiers in Iraq. The tournament is played on 40 diamonds in six complexes and more than 90 umpires are needed for this three-day extravaganza. For many players and the 15,000 or so fans that follow their team, the McQuade tournament is the highlight of the summer.

Being from Bismarck definitely has its advantages during the McQuade. You can sleep in your own bed as opposed to a hotel or camper. More friends and family usually come out to watch and there is always someone you know playing. This being my second McQuade, I was very excited to get out there and play again. My first year was 2010 when I was a pick-up player for a friend’s team. I was a little intimidated at first because I didn’t know a lot of the guys. Eventually my nerves settled and I just played the game like I knew how. That year, surprisingly, we ended up winning the championship in our division (See picture above). It was an awesome experience to win a McQuade championship my first year. I must have done pretty well because the team I played on even asked me to be a permanent part of their squad the next two years!

This year we were out to defend our title despite a two-year layoff. Flooding in Bismarck last year caused tournament officials to limit divisions and teams, leaving us out.  I was a little nervous in our tournament opener this year because it was only my second year playing in the McQuade and I was now a permanent member of the reigning champs. So there were high expectations to say the least. We played phenomenal our first game. Everyone hit the ball really well and we made great defensive plays too! We ended up 10-running our opponent after only five innings. After the game, our whole team got together and tailgated (that’s where some of the shenanigans come in). If you know softball, you know that tailgating is HUGE, especially at the McQuade. We also went to the main complex to watch Team USA play and to watch the annual home run derby.

We had heard the team we were playing in our next game on Saturday was pretty good, so we had to be ready. We started a little shaky and trailed 10-3 after three innings. But we turned the tables in the fourth after escaping a tight spot. Our opponent had one of its best batters up and I decided to back up a little bit in center to give myself a little more range. On the first pitch, the batter crushed the ball my way. I raced back towards the fence and noticed I was running out of room. But I kept running, extending my arm to brace for the impact while reaching over the fence, jumping and catching the ball! I could not believe it when I looked in my glove and saw the ball. I had just robbed the batter of a grand slam. Moments later, I realized that the base-runner who had been on third base had run home without tagging up. So I quickly threw the ball to third to double up the runner.

We used the momentum and excitement from my play as a game-changer. Our first six batters got on base and eventually scored. We ended up scoring nine runs that inning to go ahead 12-10. We shut out our opponent the rest of the way to win 17-10. To celebrate our invigorating win, we of course, grilled and tailgated in the parking lot!

We began Sunday three games from a title. We started our quest for another title at 8:40 (early for a softball game, but this is the McQuade) with an intense see-saw game that was tied 12-12 heading into the last inning. We went up 13-12 but had to hold on in the last half of the seventh. But our dreams came crashing down with two outs. The third batter of the inning got on with a hit down the left field foul line. The next batter sent us packing with a two-run homer.

Although it was a disappointing day, I still had a lot of fun last weekend at the McQuade tournament! It was fun seeing the different teams from around the country and playing in the nice weather. The McQuade tournament was certainly a weekend to remember. We are not defending champs but I will be back next year to shoot for another first-place finish!

 

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Are you working for the weekend?

Yes! It’s almost Memorial Weekend which means, for most people, a nice three-day weekend. Last year our Memorial Weekend update included information about flooding and closures.  This year we’re happy to say – Missouri River boat ramps are open!  All 18-holes of Bully Pulpit Golf Course are open!  Campgrounds in the Badlands are open!  The Dakota Zoo is open!  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for fun experiences you can enjoy this weekend and all summer long in North Dakota.

Looking for some North Dakota travel tips?  Be sure to pick up an official North Dakota Travel Guide and state map.  They’re free and if you don’t already have one you can pick them up at rest areas or order online and we’ll mail them to you.  Check your routes online with the ND Dept. of Transportation.  A travel information map will alert you to any road closures or construction.

Here are a few events on our weekend calendar and you can find many more at www.NDtourism.com.

  • Memorial Day is Military Appreciation Day in all North Dakota State Parks which means free admission for veterans and current service members.
  • The Sky Dance Sakakawea kite festival will take place at Fort Stevenson State Park – May 26-28.
  • How about a Wild West Shootout?  The gunfire goes down at 3 p.m. on Monday in the Frontier Village in Jamestown.
  • Kick back with some cowboy poetry, May 26 in Medora.

Memorial Day services are held in communities around the state. One of the most notable takes place in Sherwood where veterans from the U.S. and Canada exchange flags at the International Boundary.  A program and parade will follow with North Dakota’s Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley as keynote speaker.

Enjoy your weekend and be sure to share your vacation stories and pictures on our Facebook page.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Events

 

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Congrats FSN Fan Zone winners

Congratulations to the winners of four North Dakota vacation prizes! These lucky ones entered through the Fox Sports North Fan Zone during an online promotion leading up to the University of North Dakota vs. University of Minnesota men’s hockey series last weekend.

Garth Bowen of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has won a Medora prize package featuring two nights of lodging at the Rough Riders Hotel, two lower-level seating tickets to the legendary Medora Musical, dinner for two at the famed outdoor Pitchfork Steak Fondue, and two rounds of golf with a cart at Bully Pulpit.

 

 

 

Patrick Zalusky of New Brighton, Minn. has won a two-night stay at the Fireside Inn and Suites in Devils Lake, two-days guided fishing with Bry’s Guide Service,  dining and gaming vouchers from Spirit Lake Casino and $50 in Devils Lake Cash.

Mike Siebert of Oakdale, Minn. has won a two-night stay at Woodland Resort on Devils Lake, two-days guided fishing with Mitchell Guide Service, dining and gaming vouchers from Spirit Lake Casino, and $50 in Devils Lake Cash.

And Carmine D’Amato from Sheboyhan, Wis. won a Grand Forks prize package featuring two nights of lodging in a jacuzzi suite at the Canad Inns, a $100 gift card to the Toasted Frog, $50 gift card to the Blue Moose, $250 shopping spree and two tickets to each University of North Dakota men’s hockey games vs. Mankato State, March 2 and 3.

Governor Dalrymple Predicts Score … Again

About a year ago, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple was interviewed live by Fox Sports North Host Marney Gellner pre-game to a University of North Dakota vs. U of Minnesota men’s hockey game.  At the end of that interview, Marney asked the Governor if he wanted to predict the score of the game.  To which he offered: North Dakota, 4, Minnesota, 1.  He was right!  Two-plus hours later that’s what the score ended up.

Fast forward one year to last Friday night.  Marney Gellner and Governor Dalrymple were back at the FSN pre-game desk in Grand Forks’ Ralph Engelstad Arena.  Marney recalled the Governor’s accurate prediction and asked him for another.  This time he did a bit of a Carnac impression and guessed: North Dakota, 2, Minnesota, 1. Once again – the Gov was right on.  No word yet on if the Governor’s office is receiving requests for lottery numbers and other predictions but I do think I see a standing pre-game question from FSN in the future.

 

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Let’s go Bison!!!

From North Dakota to Texas and with Bison fans throughout the nation – tomorrow we’ll be cheering “Go North Dakota!” The Bison football team of North Dakota State University headed to Texas this week and will face Sam Houston State in the NCAA Division I FCS Championship game tomorrow.  Kick-off is at 12:00 p.m. (CST) in host city, Frisco, Texas.  The game will be carried nationally on ESPN2.

The road to the championship game has been paved by a 13-1 season for North Dakota.  No. 1 ranked Sam Houston has a 14-0 record.  Included in their fan support are the Governors and Senators of the two states.  North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have placed a friendly wager on the game as have Senators Conrad and Hoeven!

Head Bison football coach Craig Bohl with the North Dakota State University team. Photo by Dave Wallis

North Dakota State University is a research university with an enrollment of more than 14,000.  It’s main campus is in Fargo, which has a metro population of 190,000 and in addition to Division I athletics is also home to USHL hockey and American Association independent baseball.

If you’re at the game or cheering from home, be sure to share your fan photos with us on our Travel North Dakota page on Facebook.  And tweet your thoughts to @NorthDakota and @NDSUAthletics.  Go Bison!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Events, Family Fun, Sports

 

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Lights, Snow, Action!

The sparkle of the season will soon surround us as the first of winter’s snowfalls cover the ground and reflect the twinkling of holiday lights. There are great options to enjoy light tours in North Dakota. Pack up the family and a thermos of hot chocolate!  And for a truly memorable experience, consider a horse-drawn sleigh ride – available from the Dakota Carriage Company in Fargo.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Events, Winter Fun

 

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