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Red River Valley Fair kicks off this week with 9/11 memorial

The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit is assembled upon its arrival at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds on Monday. David Samson / The Forum1 / 3
The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit will be displayed for the first time in North Dakota at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo. David Samson / The Forum2 / 3
Artifacts recovered from the fall of the World Trade Center twin towers are displayed at the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. David Samson / The Forum3 / 3

On Monday, July 10, police escorted a special guest to the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. It wasn't one of the big name grandstand entertainers, or the convoy of midway rides or even the always important food vendors.

Law Enforcement personnel from Minnesota and North Dakota as well a the North Dakota Patriot guard escorted the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit to the fairgrounds where it will be on display for the first time in North Dakota as part of the Red River Valley Fair July 11-16.

The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit was started by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation in honor of Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who sacrificed his life on September 11, 2001, according to Katy Stenerson, sponsorship and marketing coordinator for the fair.

"The traveling exhibit was created to honor all who sacrificed on September 1, 2001, as well as those who continue to sacrifice today," she said in a release. "The main goal of the exhibit is to provide interactive education to ensure that we never forget."

As the Red River Valley Fair opens in West Fargo for the 50th year—it started near Fargo North High School in 1905 then moved to West Fargo in 1967—General Manager Bryan Schulz expects high attendance as long as the sunny weather forecast holds.

Last year's unusually cool and wet temperatures, coupled with construction congestion on Main Avenue, may have caused attendance to drop to its lowest levels since 2008.

"We won't have any construction this year and the weather is supposed to be perfect," Schulz said. "With all the chatter we are hearing about how many plan to come to the concerts, I think we'll be up to our normal [attendance] range of 110,000-120,000."

The 2016 fair brought just over 90,000 people in 2016, the lowest it has been since 2008. Thunderstorms periodically poured down the first few days, causing fair officials to contain seating to the grandstands for some of the planned acts and slowing the midway opening until 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 14.

Not since 2008, when 90,000 attended, has the fair drew in less than 100,000. While the numbers fluctuated since then between about 105,000 and 115,000, in 2009 the fair had a record year with 125,000 in attendance.

Each weekday, the Red River Valley Fair has free gate admission from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and all grandstand shows are free with a paid gate admission. Gate admission is $10 for adults (ages 12 and up), $5 for children ages 6 to 11 and free for those children ages five and under. The Midway is open at 1 p.m. today and Thursday. It will open at noon Friday through Sunday. On the Midway will be nearly 25 kiddy rides from tractors to airplanes and more than 20 major or spectacular rides including the classics such as the zipper, kamikaze and bumper cars.

Today, Wednesday, July 12,attendees can receive a $10 off coupon, for the Unlimited Ride Wristband, when if they bring in three non-perishable food items that will be donated to the Great Plains Food Bank. On Thursday, July 13, it will be Buy One Wristband, Get One Free day.

The rest of the week, the unlimited ride wristband will be $35.00.

Concerts:

July 11: Granger Smith with 32 Below

July 12: Hairball with Ron Keel Band

July 13: Locash with Slamabama

July 14: Shinedown with Greta Van Fleet

July 15: Old Dominion with Cam

July 16: Auto races

Grandstand gates open at 6 p.m., concerts start at 8 p.m.

What's on the menu:

There are nearly 30 food vendors to be found at the Red River Valley Fair. Here is a look at who will be there this year and with what:

— Blue Loon (Flavored Wantons, Jalapeno Cheddar or Regular Corn Dogs & Onion Rings)

— Greek Island Concessions (Gyros, Chicken Pitas & Shishkbobs)

— Bratwurst King (Flavored Brats, Chicken Brats, Tator Tots, Nachos & Red Neck Nachos)

— Westrum Quality Foods (Wild Rice Burger & Fresh Cut Fries)

— Westrum Quality Foods (Wild Rice Burger & Fresh Cut Fries)

— Westrum Quality Foods (Footlongs & Corn Dogs)

— Westrum Quality Foods (Cheese Curds)

— BZ Concessions (Deep Fried Peanuts, Bacon & Pickles, Mini Donuts & Walking Tacos)

— Schroder Concessions (Cotton Candy, Caramel Apples & Cold Drinks)

— Bronson Concessions (Breakfast Sandwiches, Philly Cheese Steaks & Tropical Twisters)

— Bronson Concessions (Corn Dogs, Cheese Curds & Burgers)

— Midwest Concessions (Deep Fried Pickles & Green Beans, Funnel Cakes & Deep Fried Desserts)

— Skips Gourmet Grub (Pulled Pork, Smoked Brisket, BBQ Nachos, Taco Taters & Salads)

— The Original Minnapple Pie (Minniapple or Minnipumpkin Pies with Vanilla or Cinnamon Ice Cream)

— The Cheese Shack (Flavored Cheese Curds — Original, Ranch, Garlic & Cajun)

— Lake Country Concessions (Chicago Dogs, Italian Sausage, Chili Dogs & Burgers)

— Festival Foods (Ice Cream Treats)

— Morning Joy Farms (Knephla, Cheesebuttons, Kuchen & Homemade Sausage

— Westrum Quality Foods (Smoothies & Mini Donuts)

— Mr. Lemon (Stevie B's) (Flavored Lemonade & Root Beer)

— Miller Concessions (Pork Chop on a Stick & Ribeye Steak Sandwiches)

— Schroder Concessions (Corn Dogs & Footlongs)

— Schroder Concessions (Cheese Curds, Onion Rings & Lemonade)

— MN Wing King (Flavored Wings, Buffalo Chicken Nachos & Sweet Potato Fries)

— The Cheese Shack (Flavored Cheese Curds — Original, Ranch, Garlic & Cajun)

— The Cheese Shack (Flavored Cheese Curds — Original, Ranch, Garlic & Cajun)

— Miller Concession (Corn Dogs, Chili Dogs, Chili Fries & Twisted Taters)

— Oof-da Tacos (Walking Tacos, Elephant Ears & Taco Salads)

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and and at CBS Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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