World-class art, culture and heritage in North Dakota offer rich experiences like a Native American Powwow and evocative museums
Known for its earthy beauty and inspiring vistas, North Dakota is an outdoor wonderland. The expansive state touts crystalline rivers, lakes, towering mountains, lush parks and wildlife galore. What most people may not know is that the “roughrider” state also has a vibrant arts, culture and heritage scene with several galleries and museums. The state also plays host to celebrated festivals, fairs, concerts and special events throughout the year. A visit to North Dakota offers plenty of artistic surprises for everyone to experience and enjoy.
Fargo Film Festival, Fargo
The Fargo Film Festival has gained immense popularity since its inception in 2001 when 30 film submissions made it to the limelight. Interestingly, the film festival has seen more than 300 submissions from across 35 states and 20 countries. They include films in categories like Best in Show, Best Animated, Best Documentary, Best Narrative Feature and Short, Best Student Film.
The venue of the film festival, the Fargo Theatre, is an attraction in itself. Built in 1926, this restored art-deco theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Historic in every way, visitors can expect to be wowed by the impressive Wurlitzer Pipe Organ. With an audience capacity of 870, the theater is the center of the arts scene in Fargo for cinema, concerts and live events.
North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks
The official art museum of the state, the North Dakota Museum of Art houses temporary exhibitions of regional, national and international art. Visitors are treated to collections and exhibits that showcase the visual history of the region including 12th century and American Indian artifacts. In addition to the indoor galleries, the museum has an outdoor sculpture garden and a colorful peony garden. Sponsored activities for the entire family are often held at the museum as well as concerts in the garden. There is also a gift shop for souvenirs and a café that serves delicious bites and beverages.
United Tribes Powwow, Bismarck
The United Tribes Powwow is a culture and heritage celebration featuring group singing, drumming and dancing by men, women and children. This annual event has celebrated more than 50 years. Highlights of the powwow include participants dressed in traditional and colorful Native American attire. They are then judged on their skills and compete for prize money in categories like Men’s Grass Dance and Women’s Fancy Dance. The festivities are further heightened by vendors selling homemade food and handmade crafts like leather items and paintings.
North Dakota State Fair, Minot
The North Dakota State Fair is one of the main highlights on the arts and culture calendar. Dating back to 1922, the fair is all things family fun. Exciting activities include carnival rides, competitive exhibits, livestock showings, ranch rodeos and bull riding. Musical entertainment takes centerstage at the fair with previous performances from Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts. With its energetic vibe, the fair also accommodates those looking for some down time by way of quiet spaces like the Kids’ Kingdom.
Plains Art Museum, Fargo
Located in a renovated warehouse, the Plains Art Museum has a rich collection of exhibits and displays to browse. It features more than 4,000 regional contemporary artworks, American Modernism and traditional and contemporary Native American works. The museum also offers classes and programs centered around creativity, critical thinking and communication at the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity. In addition, it houses Hannaher’s, Inc. Print Studio that chronicles the history of printmaking and ofers a gift shop.
Capital A’Fair, Bismarck
Art lovers will enjoy a day at the Capital A’Fair, which features over 130 artisans and their works from across the country. The fair is fun and festive with live music, street performers and an array of food and beverage vendors. There are also a host of activities for children to keep them entertained including face painting and chalk art.
National Buffalo Museum, Jamestown
A museum dedicated to the imposing bison, the National Buffalo Museum gives visitors an insight into the history of bison. Ascertain the culture and heritage of American Indians while there. Housed in the rustic log building are works of art and artifacts including the remains of prehistoric bison and weaponry once used by hunters. Two hundred acres of pasture land surround the museum where visitors can see a large herd of resident bison. In fact, it includes the famous white bison, Dakota Miracle.
Medora Musical, Medora
The Burning Hills Amphitheater is the venue for the annual Medora Musical that takes you back in time to the days of the ‘Wild West.’ Suitable for all ages, this entertaining theatrical and musical show is an ode to patriotism and Theodore Roosevelt.
Five Nations Arts, Mandan
The Five Nations Arts was established to help bring the art of the native tribes of North Dakota to the forefront. It features handmade works by artists from Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa an Arikara), Lakota and Dakota. Visitors can browse and buy a variety of crafts including woven baskets, buffalo skin robes, stone figures, beaded jewelry and painted pottery.
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