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Guest Blog by Marnie Lahtinen

It’s happening. I noticed them the other day while driving through town — the yellow and orange tints in the trees, subtle beacons to summer’s finale in North Dakota. But as temperatures cool across the state, many North

sweater run Fargo

Head to Fargo with your ugly sweater in November to take part in the Ugly Sweater run.

Dakotans are gearing up to get outside to stay fit and have fun. Really, it takes just a small amount of effort and some sense of adventure to find a variety of things to do. Whether it’s a costume-themed running race or an obstacle-laden bike ride, there are lots of ways to get body busy this fall in North Dakota.

The North Dakota Cattle Women are hosting their second annual Beefin’ It Up – Fuel for the Finish 5K Run/Walk and 10K Run in Mandan on October 5th. There is also a half-mile event for children, intended as a ‘friendly’

opportunity for youngsters to get out and get some exercise while supporting the cattle women, and yes, the cows.

Here’s a chance to feel good while doing good: A Breast Cancer Awareness Run/Walk, also on Saturday October 5th, is being held in Williston. The race starts at 9 AM and starts at Anytime Fitness on 16th Street.

Heard of a Goruck Challenge? If you and your squad dare to brave the event that is described as “Special Operations training … that challenges, teaches and inspires your small team to do more than you ever thought possible,” you will have a chance this fall in North Dakota. The Goruck National Tour makes a stop in Fargo on Saturday, October 19th. Race time starts at 1 a.m. (seriously, 1 a.m.). Yep, definitely NOT for the faint of heart (or those who like to sleep in).

On Saturday, October 26th, the Fraternal Order of Police Monster Dash is at Sertoma Park in Bismarck. Get creative with your race attire for a chance to win best costume in a variety of categories. The 10K run starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K Run/Walk begins at 9:00 a.m.

Embrace the Halloween spirit at the Extreme North Dakota’s Terrifying Run Amongst Innumerable Lost Souls in Turtle Lake State Park on October 27th. Compete solo or as a team, and try to complete as many laps as you possibly can in a 12-hour stretch. The race has elements of a Haunted House, and offers fun for non-runners as well: horror flicks, Halloween candy and pumpkin carving.

Have you ever thought how fun it might be to run 3.1 miles in the absolute ugliest sweater you could scavenge from the moth balls, the second-hand store, or your great-aunt Betty? Well, here’s your chance! The Ugly Sweater Run™ is visiting Fargo’s Red River Valley Fairgrounds on Saturday, November 16th. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. In addition to the hideous sweaters, there will be wholesome holiday music, huge inflatables, hot chocolate, photo ops and adult libations. Additionally, there will be prizes awarded to the best and worst sweater in attendance. Which, by the way, begs the question: Is the ugliest sweater the best or the worst?

Cyclocross with Bis-Man cyclists, Wednesdays in October, at different locations around the cities of Bismarck and Mandan. Get gritty with the locals as you do a series of short laps that go up, down, over and across a range of terrains. Just understand that you WILL have to dismount and carry your bike to navigate course obstacles- hence the gritty, people. All races are on Wednesdays and start at 6 p.m. The locations and dates are as follows: October 2nd Sunset Park, Mandan (meet in the church parking lot); October 16th Pioneer Park, Bismarck (by the lower bowl parking lot); October 30th Sleepy Hollow, Bismarck (costumes are optional, but much preferred!).

In the east, the annual Red River Cyclocross Challenge is taking place on Saturday, October 12th in MB Johnson Park in Moorhead, MN. Join the cycling locals in the Fargo/Moorhead area to show off your bike-handling skills while having some healthy and gritty fun.

A sister race of the Extreme North Dakota running race, the Extreme North Dakota 12 Hour Mountain Bike of Enduring Delirium (also known as END-TOMBED) will be held on October 26th, 2013 at Turtle River State Park near Avilla, ND. This is a self-proclaimed “epic Halloween-themed bike race” in which one can race alone, or on a relay team. The goal? Complete as many laps as humanly (or ghoulishly?) possible in a span of 12 hours. If you are not interested in racing, there is plenty for the lay person to do: Pumpkin carving, horror flick watching or warming by the fire.

Perhaps you prefer not to race, and just want the experience of biking through the North Dakota Badlands? Dakota Cyclery in Medora, just outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park, offers guided tours of different areas of the park, as well as a shuttle service.

blog photoNote: Thanks to Ambassador and North Dakota Department of Commerce Marketing & Communications Intern Tonya Bauer for sharing her thoughts as a North Dakota ambassador living in New York. Tonya was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, and is currently attending Syracuse University in New York, majoring in broadcast journalism and American history. But don’t let the New York label fool you, she is still a North Dakota girl at heart.

By Tonya Bauer

You know the old saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”  I never truly understood that phrase until I left North Dakota for Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY.

I’m a North Dakota native, born and bred in Bismarck. I spent my childhood riding my bike around the Capitol grounds, casting my rod on the shores of Brush Lake and many summers at the North Dakota State Fair. Now, I’ll be a junior in the fall as I continue to pursue my degree in broadcast journalism and American history at SU. But in the two years I’ve been gone, I’ve realized all the things I’ve missed about North Dakota.

  • Grand Forks: This city was my second home growing up. I spent countless weekends and summers eating at The Keg, going shopping at Old Navy (because Bismarck didn’t have one yet), eating chippers until my tummy hurt, and spending quality time in Hugo’s (their grocery store). I love Grand Forks because every time I go back I get to reminisce on all those childhood memories.
  • A classic North Dakota adventure is Medora. The whimsical charm of the friendly town and its homemade ice cream and old-fashion candy shops combined with the rich history surrounding Theodore Roosevelt is something unique to North Dakota and a history majors dream.
  • What I miss the most are the weekends spent on my aunt and uncle’s ranch. It is located just on the outskirts of the Badlands and provides beautiful scenery and a peacefulness unheard of in the hustle and bustle of New York State. The weekends are always filled with horseback riding, competitive family game nights and lots of laughs. (I also learned to drive on the ranch, good thing too because I ran into a couple of hay bales.)
  • There is something so quirky about North Dakota and all its giant animal sculptures. It makes me love this state even more. I always make it a priority when traveling to stop at these sculptures and snap a few photos. Because honestly, when else can I say I stood next to a 60 ton buffalo or the world’s largest Holstein cow.

The list about my North Dakota love goes on and on. I’ve learned to take advantage of everything North Dakota has to offer because it is unlike any other state. So when that inevitable college question, “Where are you from?” is asked, I’ll grin and proudly say, “North Dakota.”

Note: Thanks to Ambassador and North Dakota Department of Commerce Marketing Intern Tonya Bauer for sharing her thoughts as a North Dakota ambassador living in New York. Tonya was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, and is currently attending Syracuse University in New York, majoring in broadcast journalism and American history. But don’t let the New York label fool you, she is still a North Dakota girl at heart.

As a college student in New York, it can be difficult for me to keep up on North Dakota happenings. “What’s going on with North Dakota anyways?” is a popular question for people who meet me out there, so it is essential that I keep up on news so I can continue to brag about our state’s growing economy, gorgeous natural beauty, supreme quality of life, and all the fun things for locals and visitors to do. My favorite source is the North Dakota Matters e-newsletter as it provides me with North Dakota news and events.

North Dakota Matters is sent out by email at the beginning of each month by the North Dakota Department of Commerce. It features local and national news articles about North Dakota, as well as upcoming events in the state. So if you want to stay “in the North Dakota know,” register at to receive ND Matters and continue to brag about our great state!

Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday North Dah-KOOOO-tah. (breath!) Haaappy Birrrthday too Yooooouuuuu!

123 ways to north dakota

Happy Birthday North Dakota

North Dakota turned 123 years old today having achieved statehood on November 2, 1989. It is ranked as the 39th U.S. State by entry into the Union, however the  exact number is a secret simply because Benjamin Harrison signed the  documents in the blind and it was never disclosed which of the two Dakotas is the senior state. North Dakota claims the earlier ranking as the 39th State because of alphabetical order, but secretly we’re sure we were first.

To celebrate this momentous occasion for the state we love, the Ambassadors Program and the North Dakota Department of Commerce is launching,, an interactive site celebrating North Dakota’s 123rd birthday. The site features 123 ways to explore the state, one for each year of statehood. The activities featured act as a virtual bucket list for those looking for North Dakota experiences.

You’ll likely find many activities that you can say “I’ve done that!” But better yet, you’ll find a ton of things that you can add to your “must do’ in North Dakota list.

A sampling of the activities listed includes:

  • Have a grinder at the Red Pepper in Grand Forks – named one of Esquire’s best places for late-night food.
  • Climb North Dakota’s highest point – White Butte (Elevation 3506′) near Amidon.
  • Visit North Dakota’s version of Stone Henge – Mystical Horizons near Bottineau.
  • Participate in a grape stomp at Red Trail Vineyard in Buffalo.

The site also features a downloadable list so you can check off what you’ve accomplished. Visit the site at and be sure to share your favorites on Facebook or Twitter. We invite you to add to the list on Twitter by using the #LuvND hashtag in your posts.

Happy Birthday North Dakota … you still look as good as the day you entered the Union!

Whew! Where have we been? Sometimes life in North Dakota can get pretty crazy and you miss some blog posts. Sometimes life in North Dakota can BE crazy because you have a thirst for adventure and can’t wait to explore. North Dakota talks often about it’s legendary experiences, and we are highlighting one today that not many people get to enjoy.

North Dakota is home to the Maah Daah Hey Trail, which is America’s longest single track mountain bike trail. With 96-miles of scenic badlands beauty, the Maah Daah Hey is a challenging course that connects the northern and southern portions of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and winds through the Little Missouri National Grasslands in the Badlands. Maah Daah Hey is a Mandan Indian phrase meaning “an area that has been or will be around for a long time.”

Thanks to one of our ambassadors, we have the ability to offer you the experience of riding the Maah Daah Hey in 3-minutes. With the help of a mounted bike cam, this group of riders was able to capture some of their Maah Daah Hey adventure last week and share it with us. Look at the amazing views, those steep ascents and descents and the sheer beauty of the badlands. Let the adventure begin!

It has been such a fun summer in North Dakota, we’ve been out enjoying our beautiful state … unfortunately, we haven’t blogged in over a month. Shame on us. Now that we’ve satisfied our Catholic/Lutheran guilt, here’s some ways for you to get out and enjoy our state through these great events and happenings.



Late July is red, white and blue in North Dakota


What’s more red, white and blue than a state fair? The North Dakota State Fair is back and better than ever with concerts, contests and the greatest fair fare. Fargo and Grand Forks host blues events and the Red River is the site of fishing tournaments. To find more information about these activities, and for a complete list of events, go to or call 800-435-5663 or 701-328-2525.


Plane Fun! Hillsboro Fly-In


July 19

Fly-ins are opportunities for pilots to fly-in and neighbors to drive-in and enjoy a meal together. The burgers will be good. But up-close access to the variety of airplanes is legendary.; 701-328-9653


Fargo’s Downtown Street Fair


July 19-21

Stroll through blocks of outdoor booths selling handmade arts and crafts. Enjoy awesome food and great entertainment in historic downtown Fargo.; 701-241-1570


15th annual Drayton Riverfest


July 19-22

There is something for everyone on the banks of the Red River, including food, music, parade, fireworks, Supper at the Soddy at 5 p.m. at Blessing Square, science exploration activities, mud volleyball, motorcycle run and more.; 701-454-3474


37th annual North Dakota Governor’s Cup Walleye Derby


July 20-21

A total of 252 teams race out onto Lake Sakakawea for the 37th annual derby. After two days of fishing, they return for weigh-ins to see who’s going to be crowned champions. The Governor’s Cup for ages 17 and under is July 21.; 800-799-4242 or 701-337-5576


Christmas in July

Icelandic State Park, near Cavalier

July 20-22

Christmas is coming early to Icelandic State Park where campers decorate their campsites for Christmas. Also enjoy the kids’ bike parade and evening entertainment.; 701-265-4561


McVille Days


July 20-22

There’s something for everyone including dances, children’s games, canoe races, barbecues, golf tournament, bingo, aerial show, dessert bake-off, and parade.; 701-322-4343


Vinnie’s Mud Bog


July 20-22

Time to get down and dirty with mud pits open for trucks and ATVs. Competition obstacle courses will be set up for four-wheel-drives and two-wheel-drives.; 701-640-0441


North Dakota State Fair


July 20-28

The North Dakota State Fair returns with a stellar concert lineup to include Kid Rock, Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton, and Foreigner to name a few. Take part in the exciting midway games, ag shows, action-packed NPRA rodeo and, of course, unbeatable fair food.; 701-857-7620


Art and Wine Walk

Grand Forks

July 21

Stroll the downtown area and sample an assortment of fine wines while viewing great works by talented regional artists.; 701-746-0444


Family Rocket Day


July 21

Gateway to Science staff will help you build and launch your very own rockets while you watch the rocket launches of professional rocketeers.; 701-258-1975


Rod and Reel Rally Catfishing Tournament


July 21

Anglers compete in the Red River of the North’s only whopper catfishing tournament and have a chance to cash in a $30,000 bonus for breaking the North Dakota state channel catfish record.; 701-454-6184


10th annual Praise on the Prairie Music Festival


July 26-28

Bring a chair and a tent and enjoy several genres of music, including Christian rock (Thursday night), country and gospel music (Friday and Saturday). Concessions and canopies for shade provided.; 701-870-4584


Old Fashioned Saturday


July 26-29

Spend the weekend enjoying a parade, concerts and street dance, demolition derby, craft show, games, golf tournaments, water carnival, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, car show and 5-K walk and run.; 701-587-5370


Halloween in July


July 27-28

Everyone is encouraged to bring costumes and candy, decorate campsites and participate in all of Lake Metigoshe State Park’s spooky events.; 701-263-3281Bottom of Form


Fargo Blues Festival


July 27-28

Don’t miss any of the 12-band blues explosion featuring world-class bands, great food and plenty of beverages on the grass at Newman Outdoor Field.; 218-287-7775




July 27-28

The band “Firehouse” headlines this two-day community festival that also includes a golf tournament.; 701-524-1680


Taylor Horsefest and Musical


July 27-28

It’s all about horses. Events include demonstrations, parade, musical and cowboy poetry, entertainment and food booths.; 877-757-7545 or 701-974-4210


Ukrainian Festival


July 27-29

Celebrate the area’s strong Ukrainian heritage with music, Ukrainian dancers, food and activities.; 800-279-7391


Blues on the Red

Grand Forks

July 28

Enjoy an evening of great blues music from some of the top musicians in the country. Vendors will be on site selling pizza, burgers and barbecue.; 701-772-8404


Do and Discover


July 28

This year’s Do and Discover features historic re-enactors, lunch, Lego building, horse care lessons and old-time photographs.; 701-349-2916


Cats Incredible Catfish Days

Grand Forks

July 28-29

Not just a fishing tournament! Top anglers compete while others enjoy a chili cook-off, beer garden, food vendors, live entertainment, games and contests.; 701-772-7271


Northern Great Plains Culture Fest

Knife River Indian Villages, Stanton

July 28-29

Learn about the people who first inhabited the area through cultural demonstrations and presentations of the lives of people that lived on the Plains.; 701-745-3300


These are just a few of North Dakota activities and events taking place in late July. For more information, go to or phone 701-328-2525 or 800-435-5663.


Guest Blog from ND Tourism:

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 from our weekend calendar and you can find many more at

  • 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?  It 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.

Thousands of runners will be flocking to the Fargo area this weekend to participate in the eighth annual Fargo Marathon. It has best described as Flat, Fast, Friendly & Fun… with an emphasis on Friendly & Fun! The Fargo Marathon has been the recipient of the Runner’s World Magazine Reader’s Choice Award as the #1 Best Value Marathon in America.  Runners World also recognized the event as the 8th Best Overall Marathon in America in January 2010.

The festivities kick off on Thursday with a youth half mile and 1-mile run.  Also starting Thursday is the Health and Fitness Expo at the Fargo Dome. Runners can pick up their packets and visit more than 80 vendors showcasing the latest and greatest in food, clothing, shoes, souvenirs and more.

Let the carb loading begin! On Friday night the pasta and lefse feed will be filling all of our runners with extra carbohydrates so they have extra energy for the big race. Friday evening is the start of the event with the 5K race. This year, the Fargo Marathon Organization set a goal to register 10,000 runners for the 5K. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and NIKE have partnered to produce a matching funds program with the goal of raising enough money to purchase a new pair of running shoes for 1000 underprivileged children in the Red River Valley.

On your mark…get set…run! Saturday morning the 10K kicks off bright and early at 7 a.m. with the half marathon runners starting at 7:30 and the full marathon runners at 8:15 a.m.  If you are in the Fargo area you should definitely come down and cheer on the runners. The “cheerleaders” as I call them are an important part of the race. They keep runners excited and driven to keep going.  If you can get to the finish line, which is inside the Fargo Dome, it is such a neat experience to see runners of all sizes and ages cross the finish line. What an amazing accomplishment it is for all the runners. The Fargo Marathon is one of the coolest events North Dakota has so get out and cheer on the runners this weekend!

bucket list

Bucket list fail.

A friend of ours was recently inspired after attending a freelance writer’s conference to create her own North Dakota Bucket List. We created a bucket list once, but we think we may not have understood the concept at the time.

She, much like many of our Ambassadors, loves North Dakota and was shocked by how many times she hears about new places to go and visit even after living in the state her entire life. We liked the list so much we thought we’d encourage you to think about your North Dakota bucket list. Check out her list below and for the full skinny – and we mean skinny, as she is normally a fitness and healthy food blogger – visit her at  

North Dakota Bucket List ala Brianna Strahm (AKA @donteatcrap)

  1. Drive through Teddy Roosevelt National Park to pet the buffalo and experience the Medora Musical (again!) (Editor’s Note: We strongly advise against petting buffalo.)
  2. Bike or Hike “part” of the 100 mile Maah Daah Hey Trail
  3. Go sailing on Lake Sakakawea
  4. Kayaking or canoeing on the Pembina River
  5. Catch a walleye in Devils Lake
  6. Go to a UND Hockey Game at the Ralph Engelstad
  7. Take a picture with the Worlds Largest Buffalo (again!)
  8. Drive down the Enchanted Highway
  9. Visit the Rock Museum in Parshall
  10. Visit the Wood Chipper in Fargo
  11. Walk across the Fairview Bridge
  12. Visit Prairie Fire Pottery in Beach
  13. Eat at the Pitchfork Fondue in Medora
  14. Eat Juneberry Pie at Lunds Landing in Ray
  15. Sample a dessert from Nicole’s Fine Pastry in Fargo
  16. Eat Chippers from Widmans in Grand Forks (again!)
  17. Visit the Albino Buffalo in Jamestown (sorta again!)
  18. Ride a sled being pulled by an ATV at Papa’s Polar Patch
  19. Stay at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo
  20. Experience Norsk Hostfest in Minot
  21. Participate in a grape stomp at the Red Trail Vineyard in Buffalo

Now for the BIG question … what would you add to the list?

blueman groupThe winter-that-kind-of-wasn’t in North Dakota has allowed, even, encouraged us to play outdoors. To prove North Dakota still has plenty to do indoors, we’re challenging you to take a break from hiking, biking and fishing this April to experience a few indoor events guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

The Blue Man Group will be performing at the Fargodome on Tuesday, April 3. If you aren’t familiar with this wildly popular group, they are well-known for their combination of comedy, music, technology and starkly blue faces. The Blue Man Group show has been described as intensely exciting, outrageous, and one that leaves the audience in a blissful, euphoric state. And, who doesn’t love euphoria?! With no spoken language, Blue Man Group is perfect for people of all languages, and cultures.

artcraftCrafters and art fans unite! The 21st annual Minot Spring Show will be held April 13-14 at the North Dakota State Fair and includes more than 250 booths showcasing products hand-made from across the U.S. If you can’t make it to Minot, head to Hazen for their Art Show April 28-29. The weekend will be filled with demonstrations, entertainment and viewing of artwork in a variety of categories and hosted by the Hazen Arts and Crafts Association.

 carReady to rev up those engines? Grand Forks is the place to be April 14 – 15 for both motorcycle and car enthusiasts. The Red River Valley Motorcycle Show held at the Alerus Center is one of the region’s largest gatherings of motorcycles and will showcase some of the best classic and modern bikes. You also have a chance to win a custom 2012 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle! For the car lovers, the 30th annual Prime Steel Car Show will be on tap at the Purpur/Gambucci Arenas featuring some amazing classic cars, hot rods, muscle cars & antiques.

 Love opera? Then head to Fargo to experience Beethoven’s one and only opera, Fidelio premiering April 13 and 15 at Festival Concert Hall at NDSU. Hear and see the story of mistaken identity, love that conquers all and a final chorus that never fails to bring the audience to its feet. Wrapping up the list for those enjoying musical entertainment is the “Big Sing” in Jamestown April 28-29. This annual gathering of over 300 men from 12 choruses is sure to get toes tapping.

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