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West Fargo observes annual community celebration

The West Fargo marching band performs in the previous year’s West Fest parade. File photo

The 22nd annual West Fest celebration will be accented by three brand new additions during its three-day run this weekend, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19, 20 and 21, working off the theme “Remember the Past, Envision the Future.”

Joining the regular ever-popular slate of activities will be The Packer Jam set for Friday evening, and Streets Alive and a 10K, 5K, 2 Mile Walk/Run, both scheduled for Saturday.

Larry Lubben, serving as as planning committee chairperson for the city of West Fargo sponsored West Fest event, said the theme correlates to the ever-constant growth and change the community is experiencing including the addition of a second high school.”We want everyone to remember the past but also want them to start start looking forward to the future and embracing it as it relates to the schools as well as all the other growth in the community,” he stated.

Lubben said the planning committee is pleased about the new additions to the West Fest line-up which should help take the momentum to a whole new level.

Streets Alive, was formerly a school promoted activity held in late summer; Packer Jam was previously held separate from West Fest at a Horace location; and the Run/Walk is an entirely new venture, coordinated by Fargo marathon founder and organizer Mark Knutson.

West Fest festivities will kick-off Thursday evening with the ever-popular Cruise Night hosted by the Fargo Moorhead Toppers Car Club from 5 to 9 p.m. on the northern end of Sheyenne Street.

The Packer Jam, which will feature local live bands and performers is scheduled for Friday night at the West Fargo VFW also tying in with the West Fargo High School Class Reunion of 1973 and 1978. In the past the jam had been held at Horace but the event became so popular it outgrew the venue.

To continue the tie in with the weeklong homecoming festivities at West Fargo High School, visitors in town for West Fest are also invited to attend the football game Friday night at 6 p.m. at Packer Field between the West Fargo Packers and Grand Forks Central. The annual Hall of Fame Induction Recognition will also be a part of the evening’s program. (See related story)

Saturday’s West Fest events will highlighted by the grand parade, with about 150 entries expected, followed by a variety of other events scheduled throughout the day.

The event is sponsored by the City of West Fargo, and the planning and work carried out by staff as well as a number of “community volunteers” highly committed to the realization of West Fest.

West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern is looking forward to the annual celebration and is proud that the city of West Fargo is playing a role in it.

“I always look forward to West Fest because of all the excitement it generates,” he stated. “We seem to add more and more activities each year, which adds to the excitement. From cruise night to the dance sponsored by the fire department, there is something for everyone. I’m sure this year’s West Fest will be the largest and best ever!”

Cruise Night back on Sheyenne Street

The increasingly popular Cruise Night with its record breaking crowds will be back on Sheyenne Street Thursday evening with an array of classic vehicles. This showing will be the last of a series of four highly successful gatherings this season.

Hosted by the F-M Toppers Car Club and the city of West Fargo, the show will run from 5 to 9 p.m.

FM Toppers member Cody Wendelbo said organizers are expecting an excellent turnout again Thursday night as has been the case since the event first started. “This summer has been great for cruise night, we are seeing from 400 to 800 cars per night. Not only local cars but people driving in from long distances. I’ve talked with people from Canada, Nebraska, South Dakota, as well as Minnesota and all over North Dakota. We have had car clubs make a trip of it or people traveling through hear about it and make plans to be in town during the event. It has also been a nice stage for our car club, the Toppers Car Club to give a way lots of money to great local charities. So far this year we have donated to Bonanzaville, Halleys Milk run, and this month we are giving away $7500 split between three great organizations. As always the event is free to attend and tons of food vendors will be there.”

Those displaying their vehicles and motorcycles are asked to arrive after 4:30 p.m. to get them lined up.

The VFW, Silver Dollar and Stars and Strikes will be serving food outside their facility, along with a variety of other vendors.

Registration for the entries will take place in the Toppers tent located in front of the VFW,

Louise Dardis Parade Grand Marshal

Always one of the high points of West Fest is the Grand Parade, which will get underway at 1 p.m. Saturday, with longtime West Fargo resident and educator Louise Dardis serving as grand marshal for the route that that will travel Sheyenne Street. Joining her in the lead car will be her husband, Bernie.

Dardis said she is honored to be selected as the grand marshal for the parade. “West Fest is an opportunity for West Fargo to celebrate the greatness of our community. The tradition exemplifies the cohesiveness of our community by showcasing our youth, schools, businesses, community services, and so much more. It provides good home town fun for kids from one to 90, whether families have been community residents for generations or are new to the community.”

Parade grand marshals are selected by members of the West Fest committee based on their community-wide contributions. Louise was honored for that commitment earlier this year as the recipient of the 2013 Civic Excellence Award.

She and her husband, Bernie, moved to West Fargo in 1977 and have been residents ever since. She served as an elementary teacher at Harwood and then Horace until 1983 when she was named principal at Westside Elementary, serving for 16 years. In 1999, she was named assistant superintendent of West Fargo Public Schools remaining in that capacity until retiring in April of 2013. She currently is the State Director of FHI 360, a non-profit organization involved in grant administration.

The Dardises have two two grown sons, Patrick and Daniel. Patrick, his wife Jen, and their son Harrison live in Naperville, Ill.; and Daniel and his wife Kelsey live in West Fargo.

The parade lineup will begin at the Lodoen Community Center, 109 3rd St. E., at 10 a. m. with entries lining up on a first-come, first-served basis.

This year’s parade route will start at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Sheyenne Street and travel down Sheyenne Street, ending at 10th Avenue West.

Extra incentives will be awarded to the best of theme, with first place earning a $1,000 cash prize; and Mayor’s choice and Community Pride winners taking home $500 each.

The winners will be selected before the parade and recognized as they are announced during the parade line-up.

The West Fargo Public Library will be closed Saturday, Sept. 21, due to the parade lineup, and will reopen for regular hours Sunday, Sept. 22.

Saturday West Fest Activities

In addition to the parade, several other activities will highlight West Fest on Saturday including: the Fall Rummage Sale sponsored by the West Fargo Park District at the Veterans Memorial Arena, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the Ministerial Society Pancake Breakfast at Faith Lutheran Church from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.; Horseshoe Tournament at Elmwood Park at 9 a.m.; Lunch and Munch on Sheyenne Street and 4th Ave. E. starting at 10 a.m.; Penny and Pals in the parking lot north of 4th Ave. W. at 11 a.m.; the 11th annual Mike McLeod Softball Tournament at Rendezvous Park, 9 a.m. until done; Family Fun at Eastwood Elementary School, starting at 2:30 and continuing through the afternoon, with inflatable games by Games to Go, Face Painting, magician, and much more; Streets Alive in the neighborhood south of Eastwood Elementary, also starting at 2 p.m.; Community Band Concert at Eastwood Elementary at 3 p.m.; and the Annual Firefighter’s Ball at the Veterans Memorial, with music by Billy D & The Crystals from 8 p.m. to midnight. All of these activities, with the exception of the Fireman’s Ball are free and food vendors will also be available on site.

Plenty of food, beverage, fun

Several special vendors and businesses will be accommodating guests with food and refreshments the duration of West Fest, serving from 10:30 a.m. until at least 2:30 p.m.

Among the food court vendors will be: Truck Pizza, Chef Mobile, Bronson Concessions, Westrum’s, Santa Lucia’s, Everybody’s, Romos, Verdi’s, Top Dog Hot Dog.

Chef Mobile will also be serving food at the softball diamonds; and Family Fun/Streets Alive vendors serving from 2 to 5 p.m. will include Tropical Snow, Wet Fargo Impact Softball and Subway.

The Silver Dollar, the West Fargo VFW, and Stars and Strikes will also be offering outdoor food and refreshments.

Firefighter’s Ball at Veterans Arena

Keeping with tradition, the annual Firefighter’s Ball, will be the concluding West Fest activity Saturday evening from 8 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Arena, located at 1201 7th Ave. E.

Observing its 75nd annual event, the ball continues to play a key role in the department’s operation, with the proceeds basically used to help out the volunteers, including the purchase of dress uniforms, funding the annual spring awards banquet, fireman’s picnic and other social functions, as well as purchasing some of the training equipment used in the fire hall.

West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider said the firefighters are always happy to be a part of West Fest which last year was moved to the Vets Arena.

Schatschneider said the change in venue proved to work out well. “This will be the second year at the Veterans Arenas and it has been a very good cooperative effort with the West Fargo Park District. Last year it seemed to be a hit with everybody and the Park District has helped out again this year to host this function and we are very pleased.”

Billy D and the Crystals will be providing the musical entertainment. Tickets will be $5 at the door and they are also available in advance from any firefighter. The dance is open to those 21 years of age and older. Those attending are welcome to take their own refreshments and food. A concession stand will also be operating.

Firefighters, LCC helping the cause

Fire Chief Schatschneider and his firefighters as well as the Lutheran Church of the Cross congregation will also be taking a stand for excellent causes as they walk the parade route.

Schatschneider said the fire department members will be traveling the parade route with equipment and manpower on foot accepting donations that will go to support local Salvation Army needs.

Over the past three years, the drive has collected over $5,600 for the Salvation Army. Last year’s collection was used to purchase ten portable radios that were given to Emergency Disaster Services to use wherever needed. Previous years saw much needed radio equipment and pagers, along with ham radio equipment acquired for the emergency disaster team.

Schatschneider said the West Fargo firefighters are dedicated to this team of Fargo responders who are a totally volunteer group donating their time to see that in the event of an emergency or disaster the victims are taken care of. “We are very thankful that we are able to help support them through the generous support we receive each year from everyone as we do our collection during West Fest.”

Parishioners at Lutheran Church of the Cross will also be collecting in a unique way for the third running at West Fest. Instead of handing out treats, they will be collecting non-perishable food items for the local Great Plains Food Bank. Church members will be pushing shopping carts to collect the food items from parade spectators. They are hoping to fill a truck and trailer full of food to deliver to the Great Plains Food Bank following the parade. Anyone attending the parade is asked to support the great cause by bringing items to donate.

So be on the lookout for the firefighters and the LCC Collection Float during West Fest and help them each arrive at their goals of helping The Salvation Army and the Great Plains Food Bank.

Contributing sponsors

The generosity of contributing businesses and sponsors, in varying degrees and levels, help annually in making the West Fest day celebration on Saturday the gigantic success that it is.

Participating businesses, sponsors and a complete rundown of West Fest events appear in the special ‘West Fest’ section of today’s publications.

For more information about any of the West Fargo activities, visit the city of West Fargo website at or call 701-433-5300.