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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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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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Memorial Day Weekend Travel Updates

Kicking off your summer with a Memorial Day Weekend vacation?  North Dakota Tourism invites you to have some Legendary fun!  As you’re planning, we’d like to share a variety of updates and travel resources.  Certain parts of the state are experiencing the joys of Mother Nature – but rest assured, there’s plenty to see, do and explore.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is open for visitors at both the North Unit (near Watford City) and the South Unit (Medora).  Campgrounds are closed, but will be reopened as soon as waters from the Little Missouri River (nicknamed the Little Muddy) recede.

Record water levels in Medora are currently affecting access to Bully Pulpit Golf Course and the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site.  Please call ahead to check the status of attractions in Medora as you’re planning your trip.  The Medora Musical will open as scheduled June 10.

Missouri River and Bismarck-Mandan

Due to unprecedented record and late snowfall in the Rocky Mountains, record inflows of water have raised Lake Sakakawea resulting in extreme releases from the Garrison Dam and into the Missouri River.  Fishermen are still getting out on the river and just need to be aware of the no-wake zone from the Garrison Dam to the McLean Bottoms/headwaters of Lake Oahe.

In Bismarck-Mandan, there are closures at the Dakota Zoo, Riverwood Golf Course, the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, boat ramps and recreational trails.  You can find information at the Bismarck Parks and Recreation office and get information on other attractions, events and lodging at the Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Statewide Information

If camping is part of your travel plan, the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department is keeping tabs on affected state parks, trails and campgrounds.  Likewise, the North Dakota Department of Transportation has travel maps to help guide you.

The message:  Please just plan ahead to make sure your vacation goes off without a hitch!  We hope your North Dakota trip is a great adventure for all the right reasons!  For example, consider some of the FUN to be had this weekend:

For updates on travel information AND fun events – be sure to “like” Travel North Dakota on facebook and @TravelND on twitter.

 

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Tony Stewart likes North Dakota dirt

Tony Stewart is scheduled to drive tomorrow Wednesday (June 23) at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo to help promote the new dirt track. Stewart says that racing in places like West Fargo brings him back to his roots. “I haven’t forgotten where I came from,” said Stewart. He also said that events like the one in West Fargo are relaxing because he doesn’t have to worry about appearances and news conferences. He loves the competitions, but likes to have fun just as much. Tickets are only $5, and the race starts at 7pm. Dont miss him and other races going on at the Red River Speedway this summer! http://www.redrivervalleyspeedway.com/

 

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Big Iron

I was trying to come up with a headline that would be fitting of the Big Iron Farm Show.  I guess I’m not as creative as I thought I was, or there’s just no better way to surmise this premier agribusiness event.  Big Iron is a huge agriculture show featuring some of the best equipment, modern innovations and sought-after training sessions.  In fact, more than 70,000 people are expected at the event this year.  It takes place September 15-17 at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo.  Organizers have put great, helpful information on the Big Iron website with FAQ, hints for getting around and schedule of events.  And the forecast couldn’t be more perfect for the event, with temperatures in the 80s.  Enjoy and learn at the 2009 Big Iron!

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2009 in Events

 

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