Oh ya, you betcha can’t complain about the community’s open, receptive and engaging atmosphere. Throughout the year, Fargo-Moorhead’s spirit overwhelms newcomers with its laid-back and inviting nature. Both longtime and recently transplanted residents welcome people through annual and impromptu gatherings, quickly incorporating others into Fargo-Moorhead’s rich tapestry.
Area individuals, institutions and businesses implement initiatives to attract and retain their most valuable resource: people. From extensive leadership development and competitive wages to life-enhancing events and community-building initiatives, the metro is committed to welcoming those who live “north of normal.”
“It’s just not about the town,” says Billi Jo Zielinski. “It’s about the people in the community. We have a young, vibrant atmosphere that really engages people.”
Zielinski, president and CEO of North Dakota’s MakeA-Wish chapter, has lived in large metropolitan areas both within the United States and abroad. In the early 2000s, she left the area after finishing college. Zielinski had a change of heart and returned in 2012 to make the F-M area her permanent home with her husband.
“We just saw that this community had so much to offer our family,” she says. “There is so much that has changed through the years; it has become a dynamic and caring community.”
A ‘WELCOMED’ CELEBRATION
Zielinski – along with numerous others in the community – attended the FM Welcome Party, a biannual event hosted by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. This entertaining event attracts everyone, whether they have moved to the community six days or six years ago. Entire families, new Americans, young professionals and interns came together in May to celebrate their newfound home at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo.
“It’s so encouraging to see so many new people come to events such as the FM Welcome Party,” Zielinski says.
Along with eight other hosts, Zielinski shared her experience with other attendees. She recounted moving away from the Fargo-Moorhead area, only to receive an extremely warm reception more than 10 years later. “When we moved back to the area, even our former barista, Angelique from Atomic Coffee, was still active and welcoming in the community,” Zielinski says.
The metro area’s no-frills, down-to-earth attitude was apparent in the simple, yet delicious appetizers along with the evening’s unassuming, networking bingo. Special coloring sheets were available for families. A sampling of the area’s rich entertainment was delivered by the FM Symphony Orchestra Duo, the Straw Hat Players from Minnesota State University Moorhead and the Great Plains Harmony Quartet.
Others report experiencing the metro area’s intentional hospitality through organic and spontaneous gatherings. Erin Balerud, a supervisor at North Dakota State University’s library, moved to the area after earning a degree in Philadelphia.
“When I moved here, I was working from home and I didn’t know anyone,” she says. “So I was like, ‘Where do you meet people?’ ”
After a quick online search, Balerud found the Post College Transplants (New to Fargo) meetup. The group includes more than 400 members and is just one of the hundreds of groups on Meetup. com. Any member of the Post College Transplants group can post a gathering for others to join. Past events include pop culture trivia outings, kickball tournaments and movie nights. “People think of Fargo as a kind of homogenous place, but if you look for it, you can find people from all over with so many cool experiences,” Balerud says. With a community like Fargo-Moorhead, it’s likely that you won’t be labeled a “newbie” for long.
Check out some of these annual celebrations where there are plenty of people to meet:
- Frostival in January
- Fargo Film Festival in March
- Streets Alive! Summer Events
- Bonanzaville 4th of July Events
- F-M Pride in August
- Welcoming Week in September