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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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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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Travel back in time when you experience the Custer story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s May 17. One-hundred-thirty-six years ago this day Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry based at Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory left their post and journeyed west on the Centennial Campaign into the valley of the Little Big Horn.  It was an attempt to force non-treaty Indians back to their respective reservations.  Outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered, over 260 men were killed during the ensuing battle, including all five of Custer’s companies.

The Custer story is legendary in North Dakota – shared with visitors at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of Mandan and along the Custer Trail Auto Tour through the Little Missouri Grasslands near Medora.

May 17th also marks the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for Custer House – the reconstructed home of George and Libby Custer. Visitors to Fort Abraham Lincoln can tour Custer House and the rebuilt cavalry post commissary, barracks and outbuildings.  They can hear the stories of how the first fort – Fort McKeen – was created to protect railway expansion. By 1874, then known as Fort Abraham Lincoln, it had become the largest and most important fort in the Dakota Territory and was the starting point of Black Hills Expansion to confirm rumors of gold.

Daily tours are available at Fort Lincoln and at On-A-Slant Indian Village – another “don’t miss” attraction of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  On-A-Slant was a large village of the Mandan people dating to around 1575.  It suffered greatly from a smallpox epidemic in 1781.  Visitors today are guided by interpreters as they tour reconstructed earthlodges and hear stories of the Mandan people.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Attractions, History

 

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Spooky times in North Dakota

Fort Abraham Lincoln has a reputation as one of the most haunted places of North Dakota.  Rumor has it that when Custer House (where General George Armstrong Custer and his wife Libby lived) was reconstructed in 1989 the men and women who long ago lived and died at Fort Lincoln were themselves resurrected. Interpreters and tourists both reported paranormal experiences from the beginning, and as more buildings were added, so too were hauntings to the chronicles of the strange and unexplained at Fort Lincoln. A woman wearing a black dress is seen looking out a second-floor window of the Custer House; footsteps are heard pacing the sergeant’s quarters in the Barracks; the voices of weeping women echo along the boardwalk; a shadowy figure stalks the Commissary at night; horses’ hooves stomp the dirt of their stalls in the Stables.

Paranormal activity has continued for years; occasionally a new phenomena is documented, like floating orbs in photographs. In 2002, Haunted Fort was created at Fort Abraham Lincoln – giving visitors the opportunity to have a spooky, hair-raising good time at a fascinating (and haunted?) historic site.

Haunted Fort will be open October 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29.  Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is a great visit at all times of year.

More Scary Situations and Fall Travel Ideas

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Attractions, Entertainment, Events

 

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Welcome to North Dakota!

Two-hundred-seven (207) years ago today, the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed into what is now North Dakota.  During their time, it was known as the Upper Missouri, or the Great Bend of the Missouri, or Upper Louisiana.   For Lewis and Clark, North Dakota was the transition zone between the familiar and the unfamiliar, between lands that had already been mapped, named and described and terra incognita.

They hadn’t originally planned to winter with the 4,500 Mandan and Hidatsa Indians of the Knife River earthlodge villages.  Clark planned to get as far as the “Rock mountains” before winter and Lewis expressed uncertainty about where they would stop.  But when the captains began to notice ice forming on their rowing oars and experienced their first northern plains snowfall on October 21, 1804, they realized that they must soon establish winter quarters.  Five days later, they made their first substantial contact with the Mandan Indians, who had a reputation for being friendly to visitors.  And they ended up staying 197 days on that outward journey.

North Dakota continues to have a welcoming and friendly reputation.  In fact, Cambridge University called North Dakota the most friendly state to visit.  And here, the Lewis & Clark story can be discovered by modern explorers.

A reconstructed Fort Mandan is a full-size replica refurbished in the era.  (The original fort burned down sometime before the expedition’s return voyage in 1806.)

At Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Stanton, visitors can step into a reconstructed earthlodge, walk to the Sakakawea Village site, and in the modern visitors center, view traditional clothing, tools, art and more.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn is the comprehensive stop to learn, see and experience the Corps of Discovery.  These sites are open year-round and winter events at Fort Mandan mean you can step back into the period when Lewis and Clark walked the same trails.

Details of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota can be found in the book, A Vast and Open Plain, written by Clay Jenkinson.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Attractions, History

 

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Choices choices for the long weekend

We’ve got some great ways to enjoy the Independence Day weekend in North Dakota!  Celebrate Americana with a big ol Yee-Haw at Mandan Rodeo Days or Dickinson Roughrider Days.  These legendary events are part of “Cowboy Christmas.”  Or get thee to Medora where your celebration can include parade, fireworks, the famed Medora Musical, pitchfork fondue, golf, hiking Theodore Roosevelt National Park, touring the Chateau de Mores and much more!

Or perhaps you’re craving the tranquility of water at a picturesque lake.  From Lake Metigoshe on the North Dakota-Canadian border to great fisheries like Lake Sakakawea and Devils Lake – you can find your piece of chill served with a big walleye.

One of my personal faves for the weekend is the “Quasquicentennial” celebration in Hankinson.  I may not know how to pronounce the word for 125th anniversary but I do know organizers have planned a lot of fun events including a wife-carrying contest!  Talk about funny!

Find more events highlighted in our “What To Do” news release and on our website.

Flooding concerns?

Perhaps you’ve heard about floods and water issues affecting a few North Dakota towns and cities.  Rest assured, a vast majority of our attractions, events and visitor services are OPEN!  Our travel counselors are maintaining a great list of the areas affected and we’ve detailed the impact in this press release along with links to the North Dakota Dept. of Transportation for highway information and the ND State Parks and Recreation website for campground info.

We encourage visitors to plan ahead and check routes and services to ensure their vacation is filled with legendary fun!  Our free Travel Guide is a great planning tool.  Order it, along with maps and other free brochures, online.  Or stop at a North Dakota rest area and pick one up!

 

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Flood update from North Dakota Tourism

There is an emergency in Minot, North Dakota right now, along with several communities along the Souris River – for travel information, contact the Minot Convention and Visitors BureauStatewide flood information is available along with travel information from North Dakota’s travel counselors [1-800-435-5663].

Actor Josh Duhamel offers support for his hometown

Concern and support for Minot has been flowing in faster than the Souris, including from Transformers 3 Actor Josh Duhamel who called Minot this morning from Moscow (where he is promoting the new movie).  He also told Entertainment Tonight about how people can donate to the Red Cross efforts in Minot.  How very cool and respectable that this Hollywood Star has such deep North Dakota roots.  Be sure follow Duhamel on Facebook and Twitter.  Watch his call-in with this YouTube clip and his ET interview.

I also found the words written on the Visit Minot blog yesterday to be provoking and inspirational:

Minot is facing one of the most devastating floods the city has ever seen …  The community has come together to help family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and in some cases perfect strangers … We know there is going to be along road ahead of us … But there is no doubt we will make it through this … All it will take is a little Magic.

For travelers wondering about Minot here’s a snapshot of closures:

Additional flood news

While the Souris River makes national headlines in Minot, the Missouri River continues to create additional news throughout the country.  Here in North Dakota, the water level along the Missouri River is stable.  Our friends in Williston report that the swollen river has given Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site a historically authentic experience – as it would have appeared during the times of fur trade.  All visitor experiences are open in Williston.

Lake Sakakawea is certainly at an all-time height.  Water temperatures are rising and reports are trickling in that the walleye bite is warming up as well.  All resorts, campgrounds and boat ramps are open on the big lake.  Check road reports for closures and construction news.

In Washburn, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is open, but there are no tours at historic Fort Mandan.  And across the river near Stanton, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is also open.

Bismarck-Mandan does have closures at campgrounds and marinas.  There are some road closures and traffic limitations.  Visitors should know that all shopping, dining and most attractions are open including Raging Rivers Waterpark, the Heritage Center, Custer House at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and many more.  Softball players and their families coming to the Capitol City this weekend for the McQuade’s tournament will have only a few road construction detours to worry about.  The Bismarck Marathon, which will take place September 17, will have a new route.

While there is a no-wake zone along the Missouri River to the headwaters of Lake Oahe (just south of Bismarck-Mandan), fishing continues with many access points in this giant lake.

Along the Little Missouri River – all visitor centers and scenic drives in both the North Unit and South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are open (and spectacular).  Campgrounds have re-opened in the park and in Medora – where the famed Medora Musical and Pitchfork Fondue are being offered nightly (through September 10) and all visitor services are open.  Bully Pulpit Golf Course has 9 holes open and playable.

And in Devils Lake, there is some road construction and road closures due to the mystifying lake – Fort Totten State Historic Site is open, Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is open upon appointment, the Spirit Lake Casino is open as well as all visitor services in Devils Lake and numerous boat ramps.  Don’t forget to visit the Lake Region Heritage Center Museum – it’s a gem!

While news in Minot, Bismarck, Medora and other cities flood-affected have created a lot of concern – we’d like to also note that adventurous, fun and memorable experiences await you throughout North Dakota.  We have thousands of events, historical sites, museums, nature areas and so much more.  A favorite of mine – the F-M RedHawks are at home in Fargo this weekend.  Our guests love North Dakota – read their stories at www.RULegendary.com – and then come back and share your own!

 

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