MPO celebrates 20 years of progress
By Brian L. Gray
Marking 20 years of bringing entertainment to its community, the Mandan Progress Organization celebrated its growth, past success and future plans at the Seven Seas Monday, Jan. 28, during its annual meeting.
The MPO was formed in 1993 “as a way to help improve Mandan’s self-image and make the community more attractive,” said Mandan Mayor Arlyn Van Beek. Over the years, however, the MPO evolved to become an organization that provides public events to the city, and unites Mandan’s business community in order to help bolster the city’s pride.
“It all fits into our slogan, ‘improving our community one event at a time,'” said Del Wetsch, the executive director of the MPO. Wetsch has been onboard the organization since its inception as the executive director, and in 2007 was hired full-time to serve in the position.
Wetsch introduced a new event which will be held Sept. 28 and 29 in downtown Mandan, in addition to the Buggies-n-Blues and Grill Fest. The event will be called Oktoberfest un Mandan, which will celebrate local German heritage and culture. The event, Wetsch said, will include a bratwurst eating contest, live music and a variety of German food. The event is a throwback to one of the first events the MPO hosted back in 1993, which was called Polkafest.
The annual meeting also marked a number of other special announcements for this year’s lineup of events. Marlo Anderson, with the Mandan Independence Day Parade committee, said this year’s Mandan Parade grand marshals will be the committee of the USS North Dakota, the submarine that will be commissioned from 2014 to 2047.
Bob Wefald, chairman of the USS North Dakota Committee, says the timing to name the committee as the grand marshals fits perfectly with the timeline for the USS North Dakota, as the submarine will be christened in September. It is planned to be commissioned in the summer of 2014.
The theme of this year’s parade will be “My Home, North Dakota.” In addition to the theme, a fourth attempt at breaking the world record for the longest dance will be held the morning of the Fourth of July. This year’s song will be the “Macarena.”
Wetsch also revealed this year’s Volunteer Individual and Business of the Year. Marlo Anderson, who has served on the MPO board for over 10 years and is the owner of Awesome 2 Products, was named the Volunteer Individual of the Year, and Mahlum Goodhardt PC, was named the Business of the Year.