The first of two events to celebrate North Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood kicks off Saturday.
The daylong event on the state Capitol grounds features a day of musical entertainment, games and activities for families. Activities begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Capitol Mall in Bismarck. The celebration is free to the public.
On Nov. 2, the second signature event will take place at the North Dakota Heritage Center.
A $51.7 million, 97,000-square-foot expansion project will be completed and its grand reopening will coincide with the 125th anniversary.
Both North Dakota and South Dakota were granted statehood on Nov. 2, 1889.
When it came time to choose entertainers for the 125th statehood anniversary celebration, there was a long list of candidates to narrow down.
Anniversary coordinator Janean Rambough said that there was an immense amount of North Dakota talent to pick from. Once coordinators determined who was available, she said, they were left with a good mix of talent.
"We've just got a huge lineup," Rambough said.
The all-day event that Rambough has been a part of planning for close to two years is free to the public and filled with live music. She's hoping to see several thousand people come together and celebrate the anniversary.
Chuck Suchy is one of many artists who will be performing Saturday. Suchy was born and raised near Mandan, and is known for the personal connection he has to the songs he sings. His passion lies in depicting American farm life in an honest way with his voice, guitar and accordion. Suchy will be performing at 6:30 p.m.
Sisters Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh, better known as Tigirlily, are scheduled to perform at 12:15 p.m. The duo's singing, which initially began as a hobby during church, quickly earned them national attention and several thousand views on their YouTube videos.
Other performances will include the Burning Hills Singers, Dakota Air, KittyKo, Jessie Veeder, Penny and Pals, Robby Vee, Greg Hager, Keith Bear, Mitch Malloy and The Blenders.
David Paukert is all things North Dakota. So when he heard about the state's upcoming celebration, he was immediately interested in becoming a part of it.
Paukert established his business, Pastime Prints, 22 years ago. Pride of Dakota not only allows him to market his North Dakota prairie photography, but also to meet and connect with other North Dakota residents who are just as enthusiastic about the state's beauty as he is.
Last December, Paukert's book was released. "Visions of the Prairie: My North Dakota Journey" is a collection of anecdotes and pictures of Paukert's time in the state where he was born and raised. He partnered with Terry Jacobsen, an organic farmer from Wales who wrote poetry to accompany Paukert's photos.
Along with his regular products, Paukert has made specialty items for the 125th anniversary.
Saturday means more to Paukert than a business opportunity. He can't wait to celebrate what the state has to offer alongside other North Dakota artists and entertainers.
"It sounds like it's going to be a wonderful celebration," Paukert said. "I'm really looking forward to being there."
Paukert is just one of nearly 40 art and food vendors who will take part in the statehood celebration.
Brenda Gorseth, though newer to Pride of Dakota, also will be attending. She started her business, Woodward Farm, just last year. One of the first things she did was join Pride of Dakota because she knew it was a great resource to help her gain popularity.
Woodward Farm offers uniqe, old-fashioned recipes that are made right out of Gorseth's garden. Some of her newest products include strawberry margarita jam, jalapeno-based jams and a variety of different salsas.
Gorseth makes a point to have fun with her booth; it's not uncommon to see her dressed in a Hawaiian outfit or other costumes while selling her product.
Most of all, Gorseth is looking forward to experiencing the celebration atmosphere and being a part of the positive energy.
"I think it'll be fun," Gorseth said. "It'll be a neat place to be."
In addition to the vendors, there will be plenty of activities for kids to be a part of. There will be a photo booth, face painting, balloon animals and even a few entertainers specifically chosen for kids to enjoy.
Nearly all ranges of North Dakota talent are being featured to celebrate 125 years of statehood.
"Under the Dakota Sky: An Exhibition Celebrating 125 Years of Statehood" will debut during the celebration Saturday and will be open until Oct. 23. It will be featured in the Heritage Center.
"Under the Dakota Sky" will feature more than 70 North Dakota artists in nearly every art medium possible.
Linda Olson, director of the North Dakota Art Gallery Association, started putting the exhibition together in December. She said the goal was to look for artists who had a strong connection to North Dakota.
She also tried to find a mix of style, media and geographical location to best represent the whole state.
"We strove to do as best we could," Olson said.
She believes North Dakota artists make a unique and cohesive show. She's impressed with the variety of traditional and contemporary styles throughout the display.
Ultimately, Olson hopes the exhibition will just be one more way North Dakotans can celebrate the state in which they live. Showcasing fine art from all parts of the state is something she's very excited about.
"We have wonderful artists working in the state," Olson said. "It really is a wonderful exhibit."
(Allyson Krupinsky is a freshman at the University of South Dakota.)