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Press Photo by Katherine Lymn From left, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and his wife, Betsy, along with Linda Daugaard with her husband, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, watch musicians perform at the celebration of 125 years of North Dakota statehood Saturday at the Capitol Mall in Bismarck.

Celebrating 125 years: Hundreds gather to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to ND

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BISMARCK — It’s technically called a quasquicentennial, but for North Dakotans it meant gathering outside — despite some rain — for music.

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While the state’s actual 125th anniversary of statehood is Nov. 2, which will see a more formal celebration, North Dakota talent gathered Saturday at the Capitol Mall for speeches from leaders and some homegrown music.

“We’re here because we love North Dakota and we wanted to be a part of the big celebration,” said Eunice Wolf of Bismarck.

Wolf and others spent much of the morning looking at the sky, hoping the clouds could keep hold of the rain, but soon after the speeches got started the rain fell.

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley called the crowds that stuck it out “the heartiest of the heartiest,” and joked they should all be nominated for Rough Rider Awards.

State enthusiasts enjoyed performances from an array of artists, including the Medora Musical’s Burning Hills Singers, Watford City’s Jessie Veeder and Hazen’s Tigirlily, also known as Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple also joined in as an entertainer. He led a singing of “Happy Birthday” to the state, and in his remarks compared the economic boom and entrepreneurship the state is seeing today to the values of North Dakotans 125 years ago.

“We have always known we were No. 1,” he said. “Now the rest of the nation knows it, too.”

Dalrymple rattled off North Dakota’s growing list of good rankings, from low unemployment rate to increasing personal income.

The governor, who had a lot of his own family members at the event, described how Oliver Dalrymple, his great-great-grandfather, moved to Casselton in 1875 — 14 years before North Dakota became a state.

The governor said he still has letters addressed to “O. Dalrymple, Casselton, D.T. (Dakota Territory),” from when the land was Dakota Territory.

Putting aside the friendly rivalry between the two states that once shared the territory, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard told the crowd that the two states’ prosperity and perseverance sets them apart from the rest of the country.

“We still are, in the Dakotas, what the rest of the states used to be,” he said.

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven presented a U.S. Senate resolution congratulating the state on 125 years, and listing accomplishments of North Dakota’s lifetime so far, including Theodore Roosevelt, who credited the fact he became president because of his time in North Dakota, the establishment of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1949, and a series of oil boom-related benefits, including population growth and reaching a million barrels of oil production per day.

Saturday also marked the opening of an art exhibit, “Under the Dakota Sky,” at the Heritage Center.

The display, which will go through Oct. 23, features art, photography, sculpture, poetry and more from over 70 North Dakotan artists, said 125th anniversary coordinator Janean Rambough.

“I’ve seen a number of the pieces up there and it’s kind of amazing to me that there’s that much diversity,” Rambough said.

Lymn is a reporter at the Dickinson Press. Contact her at (701) 456-1211 or tweet her at kathlymn.

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