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Dickinson's tale of 2 carnivals

A Tilt-A-Whirl carnival ride like this is sure to be featured at one of two carnivals -- if not both -- visiting Dickinson this summer.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, but for this southwest North Dakota city experiencing an oil boom -- the second in the last half-century -- this is now a tale of two carnivals.

The Roughrider Commission and the city have each decided to host summer carnivals this year.

Road construction on Villard Street and construction at the Prairie Hills Mall have caused changes and consolidation of the Roughrider Days activities at the end of June and beginning of July.

"For us, it will be a little challenging because it's new," Roughrider Commission Secretary Lori Vernon said. "Change is always different."

The Roughrider Days carnival will take place June 19-23 at the Dickinson State University Outdoor Arena. This event has traditionally been held at the Prairie Hills Mall.

"The carnival has -- gosh -- always," been held at the mall, Vernon said. "As long as I've been up here, since the early '80s, it's been up there. I'm not sure where it was prior to that."

Upon hearing there would be no carnival at the mall, Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel decided to book Spectacular Attractions -- the same carnival that does the North Dakota State Fair -- to host a carnival downtown.

"We've had several meetings regarding the downtown and concepts in order to make sure that it's vital, that it attracts people to our downtown and one of the ways that was identified is to have events and to have things that people want to attend to get them to downtown," Kessel said. "And the carnival certainly is one of those."

Crews will arrive Monday to begin setting up. The carnival should be up and running by Wednesday, Kessel said. The carnival will run in the afternoon during the week, all day Saturday, June 1, and shut down mid-afternoon Sunday, June 2.

The city's carnival will be located in the empty lot next to the Historic Elks Building along First Avenue West. This will require First Avenue West to be closed off between Villard Street and Second Street West, but the barricades will not touch either.

Some downtown businesses were upset by the situation, but said they would adapt for the week.

"I talked to everybody that was in their office last week and almost everybody was like, 'Oh, man, what are we going to do -- oh well, we'll figure it out," said Cooper Whitman, Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.

In the long run, events like this will draw more business to downtown Dickinson, Whitman said.

The idea of downtown events excites Moe Moe's Garden owner Jayme Heick, but she wishes downtown businesses were more involved in the planning of the carnival and is worried about parking, especially for businesses that don't benefit from foot traffic.

There will be about 10 rides at the downtown carnival, along with carnival food and possibly a few games, Kessel said.

"I had no idea the Roughrider Days carnival was even going to occur," Kessel said. "If I would have known that was going to occur, planning would have been much different."

There are a few parking lots downtown as well as street parking for those attending the carnival.

"Please be respectful of businesses in the downtown area and their ability to continue to conduct business during the carnival," Kessel wrote in an email. "If carnival attendees could park in the lot south of city hall or at least a block away from the carnival itself, it would be appreciated by those business owners."

In addition to moving the carnival, the Roughrider Commission has moved the annual Roughrider Days parade on June 29 because of road construction on Villard Street, the traditional route, Vernon said.

The staging area, the Biesiot Activities Center parking lot, will remain the same. Instead, the parade will head north on State Avenue until Empire Road, turn right and head east until 13th Avenue West, turn right again and head south to Second Street West, where it will loop back to the BAC.

Those wishing to view the parade can use the Dickinson High School parking lot and the Dickinson

Recreation Center and West River Community Center parking lots.

Because of these changes, all Roughrider Days events -- with the exception of Family Fun Day at Jaycee Park -- will be held in west Dickinson. 4-H Club events are held at the Lowman-Walton Concourse at the BAC and the DSU Indoor Arena, rodeo is held at the DSU Outdoor Arena and the concert, this year featuring Joe Nichols and Restless Heart, will take place at the Rec Center.

Alive @ 5, a weekly downtown street fair started last year that takes place each Thursday evening, starts up again June 6.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206
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