Normally I don’t complain in this space because I see enough of that on Facebook, and quite frankly, it’s disgusting.
However, last week the North Dakota State Fair was held in Minot, as it has for many years in late July. People come to the State Fair from all over the Upper Great Plains and western Canada to enjoy the various aspects of what North Dakota has to offer.
Unfortunately, when most of these people come to Minot, their first impression is construction. Streets are torn up, some streets are barricaded, there are numerous detours and those main thoroughfares, such as 16th Street, were down to one lane, compounding an already chaotic situation.
On Saturday we have farmers’ market in downtown Minot. We had several guests at that market from Saskatchewan and Alberta. Their comments were the fair food is great but the traffic is atrocious.
Think about what’s happening here. Do you ever travel and stop in communities along your route. I had the opportunity to travel to southern Missouri in June and there were numerous communities along the way that showcase what each community has.
Among them, McCook, Neb., Scott City, Wichita and Topeka, Kan., Bolivar, Missouri, O’Neill, Neb., and Aberdeen, S.D. Ironically, that trip was almost 1,200 miles and the only place I saw construction was in Valentine, Neb.
If you’ve ever been to Valentine, you know that it’s a pretty little town on the Nebraska prairie. But on June 18, it looked horrible. Another eye sore is Dodge City, Kan. Three feedlots and a mega dairy on the outskirts of town with hundreds of thousands of cattle. Dodge City smelled pretty with the temperature approaching 100 degrees.
Back here at home it seems like construction ramps up about the time the State Fair is about to start. I’m not sure if that’s planned or not, but it certainly leaves the wrong impression on the visitors.
Maybe it can’t be changed. And I’ve heard the phrase, there’s only so many construction days in the summer. But don’t you think the construction companies could suspend their work for the nine days the fair is in town? It would leave a far better impression on our visitors.
The problem is, this has happened before… during the state fair and during the Norsk Hostfest. I would think that city leaders would want to showcase North Dakota’s Magic City when so many people are in town.
We don’t often see construction going on during state tournaments, which Minot hosts many. During those sporting events, people can move around freely when they’re not at their hometown game. That means downtown shopping, the mall, restaurants and hotels.
After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? The more dollars that are infused into the local economy, the better for the city itself, the residents of Minot and the North Dakota State Fair.
Look, I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I just think somebody could consider the amount of people who come to Minot for the fair. It’s most likely somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the population of the entire state, which is a lot of people.
Each night the TV stations tell us what the attendance was for that day. Last year’s fair saw approximately 311,000 people visit. That’s roughly 34,000 per day. That’s a lot of people trying to get through choke points.
Consider an alternative in the future. It could change a lot of people’s minds about Minot.