By Jason Lindsey, courtesy North Dakota Tourism
Dakota Territory, a rugged, beautiful and surprising land, was, in 1889, divided into northern and southern versions. Despite the split, the two states are forever joined by their collective heritage, culture, geography, economy and people.
North Dakota and South Dakota have a lot going for them on the small meetings scene, with many Western themes and historic sites from which to choose.
Take Fargo, in southeast North Dakota, and its suburban neighbor and bedroom community across the Red River, Moorhead, Minn. The two form a multistate metropolitan area of 209,000 people.
Jill Gates, director of sales for the Fargo-Moorhead CVB, often recommends Bonanzaville, a history museum complex in West Fargo consisting of 47 buildings, many historic, located on 12 acres.
The site contains 400,000 historic artifacts covering every segment of the lives of the people who populated the region. There are also several history museums dedicated to everything from old cars to tractors and airplanes to law enforcement.
Bonanzaville preserves the history of bonanza farms, huge agriculture operations developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s to help feed a growing and hungry nation.
The first bonanza farms appeared in the Red River Valley in Dakota Territory and in Minnesota.
Local historians collected a bank, a city hall, a general store and many other old buildings from the bonanza era and used them and some replicas to create Bonanzaville’s main street. Special events and meetings are held on the grounds.
“You can rent some of those buildings for a corporate gathering,” said Gates. “You feel like you’ve been transported back in time.”
Bonanzaville has several other meeting and event spaces. Dawson Hall is a historic country-Western style venue with a stage for business receptions or meeting kickoffs of up to 250 people.
The newly expanded Event Center on the second floor of the Barnes Pavilion is a modern rental site that can meet many needs.