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Celebrate three big days of West Fest

This year's West Fest is taking on a new flair, being promoted three big days in 2010, running from Thursday, Sept. 16 through Saturday, Sept. 18, in a variety of locations, sponsored by the West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce and the West Fest Visitor's committee. The theme for this 19th community celebration will be "Investing In Our Future Through Youth Education."

Julie Yourczek, Communication and Events Coordinator for the West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, said this theme was selected to help promote more youth involvement throughout the event, tying into the selection of longtime West Fargo resident and businessman Bob Alin as the Grand Marshal, leading this year's grand parade.

Bob Alin was selected in May as the Chamber's 2010 Civic Excellence award winner. Organizers thought it appropriate to carry over his connection to West Fest because of his ongoing local and statewide involvement through the years with the youth because of his dedication to the Dollars For Scholars program that greatly benefits high school students through its scholarship offerings.

"With Bob's vast involvement with Dollars For Scholars and our youth, we felt having him serve as grand marshal was a perfect match with our theme," Yourczek said. "Ultimately he agreed, and we couldn't be happier. He is the excellent complement to tying the concept all together."

Because of the connection, there will once again be considerable participation in this year's West Fest celebration by youth and school entities, with several already signed up to participate in the parade with floats, cars, or marching units, including the band, teacher of the year, school board members, and several others.

To correlate with the theme, Yourczek said an additional fourth prize category has been added in the judging area for best representation of the theme, to go along with the other three categories consistently in place, mayor's choice, best of show profit, and best of show nonprofit.

On a bittersweet note, Yourczek pointed out that this would be the last West Fest celebration promoted by the West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce, with the merger of West Fargo with the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce imminent October 1.

The City of West Fargo is looking at taking over coordination of the event as it moves forward, and may be looking to other local organizations to assist.

"We have to keep it going," said Mayor Rich Mattern. "What I am hearing loud and clear from the people that have talked to me, is they want it to continue. My questions is 'how do we do this?'" Mattern said it will be an agenda item at the West Fargo City Commission's regular Sept. 20 meeting. "We need to take a look at it as a group and have staff review it and decide if and how we want to proceed. I'm assuming the commissioners will want to see it continue and we need to have that discussion as to how we want to proceed."

Yourczek has been helping out with the event for the last five years, well before she accepted her position with the chamber a little over a year ago. "We are sad that the chamber won't be a part of it. We have been involved for so long it is sad to see it go, but we understand why. I've really enjoyed my time working with the event and it has become very special to me personally.

"I have no doubt West Fest will continue to thrive. It really is a great community event and people really look forward to it. We have had so many calls from people already this year, who are so dedicated. I am confident that it will continue to carry on and be a success. I'm already hoping that maybe somehow I can be connected to the 20th anniversary event next year."

For right now, Yourczek is encouraging everyone to enjoy the moment and the expanded days of family fun by checking out all the schedules and being a part of all the great festivities that will be presenting themselves.

"The West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce, West Fest Committee and West Fargo Visitors Committee are excited to bring the many activities on September 16 to 18 to showcase our community. We want to thank everyone for their involvement and look forward to seeing all of you and your families at West Fest activities all three days of the celebration."