The city of West Fargo will allow the nonprofit West Fargo Events to take over organization of some of it's biggest events, including Cruise Nights, The Street Fair, Taste of West Fargo and the city's biggest event, West Fest.
While the city owns the two outdoor plazas, the plaza at Lights on Sheyenne 32 and the POW/MIA Plaza, West Fargo Events manages the events at both locations. West Fargo Events can lease out the venue to other promoters to bring in shows such as Epic Events, who will be hosting large concerts with performers such as Sawyer Brown and Hairball next month.
The city of West Fargo also hosts events on Sheyenne Street such as Cruise Night in partnership with Toppers Car Club, which was canceled for June and July due to the pandemic. The fate of the August Cruise Night and the annual city celebration has not yet been decided.
Communications Director Melissa Richard said she has worked with Commissioner Mark Simmons and Eric Gjerdevig on a plans to allow Cruise Nights to resume soon.
On Monday, July 20, the commission voted 4-1 (Mayor Bernie Dardis opposed the motion) to allow West Fargo Events to handle future large city events including Cruise Night, the street fair, Taste of West Fargo and West Fest.
Richard suggested Monday that West Fargo Events take over the organization of the city's large events, Cruise Nights, the street fair, Taste of West Fargo and West Fest, the city's largest city celebration.
The city currently pays West Fargo Events $14,000 per month for programming plus $8,600 to manage the parking garage, this year, there would not be a need for an increase in charges.
However, Mayor Bernie Dardis said he is very against the change because the city has no direction over the West Fargo Events board of directors, which includes only two voting members from the city and there is no doubt the organization would come back to the city with requests for additional staff.
City Administrator Tina Fisk said the events are often funded by using overtime from the general fund.
"Bear in mind when you're talking about good use of tax dollars, we are funding a lot of overtime for these events," Fisk said.
Fisk created a set of public safety rules for the Lights Plaza, as large concerts planned for next month are still set to take place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fisk presented a set of rules for events with more than 500 in attendance that will include limiting the 4,000-person capacity of the outdoor plaza to 1,800.
Temperatures of everyone entering will be taken, and attendees will be required to wear a mask when unable to social distance such as while waiting in line for their temperature to be taken outside the venue.
Fisk said once inside, where attendees can socially distance, masks will be recommended but not required.
Fisk said the regulations are specifically for the plaza at the Lights on Sheyenne. Fisk said a different set of regulations specifically for the POW/MIA Plaza, a smaller space, will be presented at a later time.
The commission voted table the discussion of other groups hosting city events Monday, July 20.
Although the commissioners approved of the recommendations Monday, commissioners are divided on their support of the large concerts.
"These concerts make me nervous, but I feel it's a move to try and find a balance," Gjerdevig said.
"I"m opposed to having concerts at this time," Commissioner Brad Olson said. "We're trying to prevent the disease and not have to fight it later. We're going to have to make some hard decisions if we event let these events happen or not."
Commissioner Mandy George said her personal view is that the city should only "encourage" use of masks, and not require them.
"It's my personal point of view," George said.
The city is expected to announce soon if the August Cruise Night will be cancelled.