In south central North Dakota, another pair of cities — the state capital of Bismarck and its sister city across the Missouri River, Mandan — also take their meeting visitors back to another time.
“Our most popular off-site event is an evening at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park,” said Sheri Grossman, director of sales for the Bismarck-Mandan CVB. “When you’re there, you step back in time. Everyone acts and speaks as if it is 1875. If you talk about President Obama, they will act like they don’t know who you are talking about. It really takes people back.”
The Commissary Great Room in the park’s Calvary Square has a historic flavor and seats 166 for meetings, retreats and receptions.
Hold an outdoor evening event in June, and it stays light until nearly 10, making the evening gathering that much more pleasant.
Nearby is the Commissary Storehouse, a bookstore and souvenir shop. Its shelves hold one of the region’s finest collections of books about George Custer’s 7th Cavalry and the American Indians of the Northern Plains.
The suggested meal at the park is far from what you’d call health food, but it’s always popular.
“People love what’s called a pitchfork steak fondue. The chef prepares 15 steaks at a time on a pitchfork and cooks them in a vat of oil. It’s a fun event to watch and to eat at, of course,” said Grossman.
Downtown Bismarck is the site of North Dakota’s 19-story state Capitol, one of the tallest capitols in the nation. “People enjoy going in for a tour. It’s wonderful to have a reception in the Green Room,” said Grossman.
Expansion is under way at the North Dakota Heritage Center, the state’s history museum. On the Capitol grounds, the refurbished museum will include bigger galleries that run a multimillennium timeline of life in the region, from dinosaurs and Native American culture to territorial days and the present, including the recent oil boom.