Mandan News

Recapping the Fourth of July

"The bull is pretty, but can he buck?" says Chad Berger, stock contractor. (Rick Scharf photo)

“The bull is pretty, but can he buck?” says Chad Berger, stock contractor. (Rick Scharf photo)

By Dustin White,
Mandan News, editor

While stormy weather rained on Mandan’s parade, the Fourth of July celebration could not be taken out so easily. Starting out earlier the week, the city became bustling with activity.
With a few events having begun on July 1, such as the Mighty Thomas Carnival, the next couple of days would be busy with a number of activities.

July 2 saw the first night of the Rodeo, as well as Rodeo Days Dances both on the “Strip” as well as on Main Street.

Still, that was just the tip of celebration. The next two days would see the opening of Art in the Park, baseball games, as well as the Street Festival.

Old Fashioned Picnic
Starion Financial hosted their annual Old Fashioned Picnic on July 3. The bank had been putting on the event for over 15 years.

Having set up in their parking lot, and spilling out onto the street, the event fed hundreds of individuals who dropped by throughout the day. While some of the people who happened upon the bank were unaware of the event going on, and were simply walking by on their way to Art in the Park, the bank was happy to extend a hand to all who were passing by.

Besides a lunch stand that was set up, which served hotdogs, as well as chips and popcorn, Starion also hosted a bake sale, face painting and other activities for children.

The event itself was free, with the bank picking up the costs of supplies, but a free-will donation was accepted.

Proceeds from the event were evenly split between the Mandan Kachinas, Boy Scouts Troop no. 123, Mandan Jaguar basketball team and the Good Times 4-H Ranch.

Doll and Pet Parade
There was a large turn out for the Art in the Park “Doll and Pet Parade” on July 3. With dozens of participants entering, those who were browsing through the various vendors at Art in the Park were in for a special surprise.

While the primary pets entered into the parade were dogs of nearly every size, a few unique animals were entered as well, including a goat and a chicken.

A number of the entrants’ also sported mini vehicles, including cars and tractors, as well as others who were pedaling around on their bicycles.

Road Race
Over 450 individuals entered the Mandan Rodeo Days Annual Road Race and Walk on July 4. Gearing up for a 5k run or walk, participants lined up at 8 a.m. to begin the race.

While the skies were overcast, that did not persuade the contestants to back out.

A wide array of individuals participated, from young children to the elderly. The event also brought a few who donned various costumes or items, such as a person dressed as Santa and a number of others carrying the United States flag.

The race itself saw a varied completion time, with one individual coming in at just over 15 minutes, while others took a more casual stroll, having completed the event at nearly an hour.

Stiletto Race
While running a race can be difficult enough, the BisMan Stiletto group hosted a 100 yard stiletto race on July 4. Having gathered at 9 a.m., in the Burger King parking lot on Main Street, a large group of women, and a couple of men, donned stiletto heals (which had to be at least four inches or more) to complete in a unique race.

Trying to beat the rain, the event had to readjust in order to maintain the safety of all the participants; however, a little bad weather did not stop the runners for long.

Having run several heats, the top runners of each moved onto a final. As the last competitors lined up for one last run, the rain started coming down a bit harder. Yet, as true athletes, the participants continued on.

Once the final dash was over,Vicky’s Sports Bar emerged victorious, having clenched both first and second place. Bombshell Salon came in third.

Even though the morning started out strong, with both races having gone off with little problem, the rain that caused the stiletto race to call it short, brewed up into a more severe storm.

For some, the cancellation was a frustration, saying that it should have been postponed instead. Looking at the safety of the community though, police and organizers decided it was best to call it quits.

“We knew that if we postponed it, people would still be waiting around outside and would not leave until the parade started again,” Dennis Friesz, the parade co-chairman said. “People would still be in danger on Main. If there were lightening strikes during the parade, we wouldn’t be able to get people to safety quickly enough.”

This was not the first time that the parade has been canceled though. Friesz said that the last time it was canceled was in the 1970s.

Even with the parade being cancelled, the week was still seen as a success for many. While the big parade was unable to continue, the rodeo royalty and cowboys, as well as mayor Arlyn Van Beek, put together an impromptu mini-parade.

Those who had stayed in Mandan were treated by a short parade, which included not only the royalty and cowboys, but also a horse drawn carriage, and a number of trucks. Even though it was considerably less than what the official parade would have been, many still found it an enjoyable experience.

The week was also a time for individuals to reconnect with old classmates, as the city was the host to numerous class reunions, as well as an all-school reunion, held on July 3.

For others, it was an opportunity to take in the Mandan Rodeo, which drew thousands of spectators.

The finale to much of the celebration was the firework displays over Mandan. Driving across the bridge, from Bismarck, the night sky was lit up with a plethora of explosions.

With the large display put on by the Mandan Rodeo, to the smaller, but competitive ones put on by private parties, the sky over Mandan appeared to be spewing forth fire.

Driving through town, smoke engulfed many of the streets, adding to the general environment of the night.

As the smoke finally cleared, and the sun rose over Mandan once again, the Fourth of July celebration was over for most.

While there were a few setbacks over the week, the celebration as a whole seemed to be successful.
For additional photos, see page six, as well as our gallery at