In the Upper Midwest, residents don’t wait for perfect weather to have fun. In Fargo-Moorhead, the action never stops. Locals keep busy with fun events and activities all year – heat, humidity, rain, sleet or snow.
Take a look at this guided tour of unique annual events that fill local residents’ calendars throughout the year.
Beautiful autumn leaves ignite a festive fall spirit in the Fargo-Moorhead area. West Fest in West Fargo and Greater Moorhead Days brings all kinds of family fun including parades, softball and horseshoe tournaments and a firefighter’s ball with live music in mid-September. The last two weekends of the month include a corn maze, pumpkin patch, carnival games and concessions at the Fall Festival at Rheault Farm. Late September and early October give way to Homecoming at NDSU, MSUM and Concordia with tailgating, football games, parades and fireworks.
Following German tradition, downtown Fargo celebrates an Oktoberfest of their own, complete with pub crawl, live music, games and more.
November marks one of the area’s few women-exclusive events. Pinup on the Plains is a night out, showcasing a fashion show, photo booth, prizes and live music.
The Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade also brings life to the streets just before Thanksgiving, displaying more than 100 floats parading from from Moorhead to downtown Fargo.
By the time December rolls around, holiday festivities are in full swing. Holiday Lights at Lindenwood Park run the end of November through December and provide a drive-thru light show. Santa Village at Rheault Farm kicks off about the same time, showcasing light displays, live reindeer, and the chance to partake in craft projects and visit Santa. In the meantime, Fargo Snocross National race brings pro-riders like Tucker Hibbert and Tim Tremblay to the area for the ultimate extreme sport racing in mid-December.
January means embracing the cold in the Fargo-Moorhead area with the North of Normal Frostival. The festival includes live music, carriage rides, a polar plunge and competitions from cross country skiing to snow golf and kickball. West Fargo Winter Days also tries their hand at winter fun, providing sledding, sleigh rides, craft projects and free skating – an excuse to enjoy the great outdoors.
Just before the snow melts, the Unglued Craft Fest and Gala brings the community together for a two-day event. Upwards of 70 local craft vendors set up shop. Craft workshops are available to unleash the creativity in the community.
In March, the Fargo Film Festival enthralls locals for five days. Featuring more than 100 movies across seven categories – including animation, documentary feature and short, experimental film, narrative feature and short, student film and invited films – the historic Fargo Theatre serves as the entertainment hub.
The Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and 5K race brings the Irish spirit to downtown Fargo. In April, the El Zagal Shrine Circus comes to town. Complete with exotic animals (and elephant rides), aerialists and motorcycle tricks, the three-day event is fun for all ages.
With more than 20,000 participants from across the country, the Fargo Marathon is one of Fargo’s largest events held each year. A youth run, cyclothon, Furgo dog run, 5K run/walk, 10K, half and full marathon mean anyone can compete.
Summer is undoubtedly the busiest time of year, and for good reason. Midwest summers are hard to beat. Throughout the season, there are Movies in the Park, StreetsAlive! – an outdoor street festival to encourage physical activity – and the Bluestem Summer Concert Series that brings various artists to the outdoor amphitheater from June through September.
In June, the Happy Harry’s Ribfest occupies the Fargodome parking lot, providing award-winning ribs and live music. Mid-month Restaurant Week gives locals the opportunity to try new places by offering specials, while Midwest Kid Fest and the Teddy Bear Parade create a Saturday full of fun for the family in Island Park.
The Fargo-Moorhead area offers plenty of chances to show patriotic pride. Both the MSUM Fourth of July Celebration in Moorhead and the Bonanzaville Fourth of July Celebration in West Fargo feature fun and fireworks.
Mid-July is fair season as Fargo’s Red River Valley Fair and the Clay County Fair in Barnesville, Minnesota, both set up shop for carnival games and rides, as well as live entertainment in the grandstand. Meanwhile, the Downtown Street Fair tempts residents with fried food and craft booths.
Throughout the summer, the North Dakota Horse Park hosts several live racing events and come August, the Food Truck Festival and Flea Market takes over the park, serving the best Fargo food on wheels. To round out the summer, the Island Park Craft Show provides a unique, two-day craft festival with 160 booths.
Area sports teams provide entertainment year-round with F-M RedHawks baseball, Fargo Force hockey, Fargo Invaders Football Club and two soccer clubs: FC Fargo and Dakota Fusion Futbol Club.
NDSU, MSUM and Concordia cover divisions 1, 2 and 3 collegiate sports, making for great spectating on all levels.The NDSU Bison protect the title as five-peat NCAA FCS National Champions, drawing large crowds for tailgating in the fall.
In the summer, the surrounding 10,000 bodies of water invite locals take a short drive out of town to explore lake life, including fishing, water sports and more outdoor fun.
Farmers markets, including the Red River Market in downtown Fargo and the West Fargo Farmers Market, give locals a chance to buy fresh produce in the summer, while upwards of 15 outdoor skating rinks and warming houses ensure the chilly winter is full of fun.
Lindenwood Bike Rental and Great Rides Bike Share give those in the area an excuse to explore the greater F-M area outdoors. In the summer, you can paddle the Red River in a kayak or canoe and golf on one of seven courses in Moorhead and Fargo. In the winter, many of those same golf courses double as cross-country ski trails.
In Fargo-Moorhead, the list of events and activities is never-ending and runs all year long. Sun or snow, the fun never stops.
The preceding story is published in Impact: The magazine for Fargo-Moorhead business and industry 2016