North Dakota’s drought is putting a damper on Roughrider Days.
Dickinson Fire Marshal Mark Selle announced Thursday evening that the permit for the Roughrider Days fireworks display at the old DSU rodeo grounds has been revoked due to severe drought conditions.
The decision came on the heels of Gov. Doug Burgum proclaiming a statewide fire and drought emergency earlier this week.
Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak said they wanted to make sure they gave the Roughrider Commission enough heads up to avoid a significant financial loss. He said the fire department has been working closely with Stark County Emergency Manager Bill Fahlsing and the National Weather Service to monitor the upcoming forecast for the area.
“There’s no sense in waiting to determine that the weather pattern isn’t going to change significantly,” Sivak said. “... It was best for all parties concerned to make that decision now and that’s what we did.”
Forecasts for the upcoming week that were hopeful for a minimum amount of moisture “have literally gone away,” he said. Next week’s forecast now calls for hot, dry conditions with temperatures in the 90s potentially reaching triple digits, and winds possibly in excess of 20 mph.
Sivak said the amount of rain Dickinson received on Thursday afternoon was “insignificant” and would not change their decision.
Fatty Heinz, Dickinson Roughrider Commission fireworks chair, said the commission wanted the decision made by July 2 because that is when they would have someone going to South Dakota to get the fireworks. He said while they do not know for sure, it is possible the company they contract with may hold their money, so a significant financial loss could be avoided.
“It’s unfortunate, but a good decision for sure,” Heinz said in a release. “The priority of any public fireworks display is safety. Cancelling a show of this magnitude is in the best interest of everyone considering the severe drought conditions in this area.”
Heinz said in the release that he sincerely apologizes to area residents and visitors who planned on attending.
“It’s important we all respect the Fire Marshal and Dickinson Fire Department’s decision to keep our community and the people who live here safe,” he said.
Sivak said the fire department reiterates that private use of fireworks is still banned and asked people to follow the ban so property in the city and people’s homes are not put into potential danger. He said the city will be “heavy-handed” when enforcing the ban and will not put up with fireworks being shot off, especially because of the dry conditions.
It is a Class B misdemeanor to shoot off fireworks in city limits, which can result in a $1,500 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
He commended Dickinson residents who have called the fire department to ask about burn-ban rules. Dickinson police recommend immediately calling if fireworks are being set off near their homes.
The burn ban means no materials may be burned that would produce ash or embers - such as campfires, controlled burns, charcoal grills or smokers. Natural gas or propane are permitted.
Medora’s public fireworks show is still scheduled to take place on July 4. The display will happen on the west side of Medora at Chimney Park, just east of the Little Missouri River. It will begin shortly after the conclusion of the Medora Musical.
Personally discharged fireworks are prohibited in Medora this season.