102817-nws-robinson-center

Hanson's Bar in Robinson claims the geographical center of North America with a marker on its barroom floor. 

JACK DURA, TRIBUNE

Rugby Mayor Arland Geiszler won't accept Robinson Mayor Bill Bender's challenge to a gentlemen's boxing match over which city is the true continental center.

"That's junior high stuff," Geiszler laughed. "No, I'm not going to do that."

Robinson and Rugby are 84 miles apart and both claim the geographical center of North America.

And both communities have live, federal trademarks to the claim, but Robinson got there first after Rugby let its lapse in 2009.

"No one's ever said the geographical center's in Rugby," Bender said. "Even the guy who balanced the piece of cardboard on a pen said it's 20 miles outside of Rugby."

Bender owns Hanson's Bar in Robinson where a spot on the floor is marked as the center. He's had Hanson's Bar registered as the "Geographical Center of North America" with a supplemental trademark since August 2016.

A supplemental trademark, Bender said, denotes a physically descriptive landmark. 

Having renewed its former trademark claim, Rugby has had "Rugby N. Dak. Geographical Center of North America Rugby, N.D." principally trademarked since Aug. 22.

Last August, Robinson held its first Center Fest, which Sabrina Hornung helped coordinate.

The event was a great success, she said, with seven bands and an art show celebrating "the only righteous and legal geographical center of North America."

"In a time of such political division, it only proved and solidified that everyone really just wants to have a good time, and we definitely succeeded," Hornung said. 

Bender also lauded Center Fest, and said a center monument will come to town someday too to honor the title.

"I think the thing about the geographical center in Robinson is it's in a bar," he said. "It's not out on a cold street corner where you freeze your tail off taking a picture. Who wouldn't want to visit a bar as opposed to that?"

A 15-foot cairn at the corner of U.S. Highway 2 and State Highway 3 marks Rugby's claim.

Still, other North Dakota towns lie close or have been calculated as the center, such as Balta, Orrin and (wait for it) Center.

Geiszler said he gives Robinson credit for promoting its community and Center Fest. He's never met Bender, he added.

But he's also said he's confident that the Minneapolis law firm Rugby consulted is right.

"It's been shared with me that that designation has been given to Rugby," Geiszler said. "I believe the details have been taken care of and life goes on."

So does Bender's challenge to a boxing match.

"It still stands on my end if he's willing to accept," he said.

Center Fest II is set for Aug. 10-12, 2018, at Hanson's Bar in Robinson.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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