North Dakota bar plans to launch 'scientific' institute with party, human sacrifice
ROBINSON, N.D. — A bar in central North Dakota battling for the title of "center of North America" is rolling out a new center, with the supposed scientific mission of finding the centers of cities, counties and anything else that may conceivably have a center.
The International Center for Determining Centers will be at Hanson's Bar in Robinson, about 60 miles northwest of Jamestown.
The bar has been in a year-long fight with Rugby, a town about 90 miles to the north of Robinson, over which spot can rightly claim to be the "Geographical Center of North America," with the owners of Hanson's Bar claiming the center was actually underneath its floors.
The trademarked title was recently won by the Rugby Chamber of Commerce.
In response, the owners of Hanson's Bar, Jeff Whitman and Bill Bender, decided to establish the International Center for Determining Centers, which will be dedicated solely to determining the geographical centers of cities, counties, states and countries.
"The goal is to scientifically determine the center of anything," Whitman said.
The organization will consist of a board of directors, members-at-large and a science board made up of scientists and professionals with a geographical background.
Both said they reached out the U.S. Geographical Survey to be part of the board but have yet to hear back.
For the grand opening Friday and Saturday, Aug. 10-11, Bender and Whitman decided to throw a party: "Center Fest. Moving forward." The festival will take place annually.
This year, there's a lineup of eight bands, an art installation, a 76mm propane cannon that shoots frozen pop bottles and a trebuchet, a catapult-like device used most commonly for sieges during Medieval Times.
The trebuchet worked at least once, Bender said. "It's somewhat dangerous, we hope no one gets hurt."
Bender said the bar had a Center Fest in 2017 to celebrate their efforts to claim being the center of North America and about 200 people showed up. He expects more to come this year.
"We just like odd, unusual things to happen; things happening out here is our goal," Bender said.
In line with odd things, the press release said the grand opening will also include a human sacrifice — on a strictly volunteer basis.
When asked if any person has stepped up to volunteer for the human sacrifice portion of the program, Bender said there was one individual who showed interest but did not want their name released.
Bender is skeptical a human sacrifice will take place but the bar printed out a waiver form for liability reasons.
"It's Center Fest, after all. Anything could happen," he said.