Summer in the Red River Valley has many defining events: The Red River Valley Fair, the Downtown Street Fair, River Arts, and the Fargo Blues Fest among the most popular. Also on this list is the Island Park Show, held annually during the last weekend of August. The show is one of the area’s premier events, bringing in between eight and ten thousand people each year.
The Island Park Show has been a staple in the community for forty years. According to Fargo Park District Program Coordinator Sam Larson-Brobig, the show was originally located at Trollwood Park and called the Christmas Bazaar. Due to flooding issues, the show was moved to Island Park and renamed.
Anyone who has ever attended the Island Park Show can attest to the fact that it is much more than a traditional art show. The 2016 show will feature 160 vendors with products that include such unique treasures as handmade baskets, pottery, handmade candles, original photos of rural North Dakota, decorative wood items, clothing, and much more.
In addition to the plethora of vendors (hailing from 13 different states), the two-day show also includes barrel train and horse-drawn carriage rides, live entertainment, and over 20 food booths.
Whether you are a fan of gyros, fry bread tacos, cheese curds, or kettle corn, you will not leave the park hungry.
The Island Park Show is never the same from one year to another. In addition to a stage-island that changes annually, the 2016 show will feature 20 new vendors, each with a different focus. “They cover everything from apparel and textiles to pottery and metalwork,” Larson-Brobig explained.
The popularity of the show is due to more than just the vendors, however. The location of the show at Island Park offers attendees a bit of everything. The outdoor setting allows people to interact with nature on a closer level than that found at most festivals or shows. In addition, the shade provides a level of protection against the hot summer sun. “The park atmosphere is a great place to get together with friends before the summer is over,” said Larson-Brobig.
People come to the show for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the exposure to area art that entices a visit. Others come to pick up a new item or shop for that hard to please person on their Christmas list. For still others, the food vendors and live entertainment is where it’s at. Regardless of the motivation, very few people (if any) leave disappointed.
If you have never been to the Island Park Show, one visit will quickly make it an annual tradition. “It is a completely family-friendly event with something for everyone,” Larson-Brobig said. “We have shopping, entertainment, and a food court, all located in a park. What else could you want?”
The Island Park Show takes place August 27 and 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is free. More information can be found at www.fargoparks.com.
By Jamee Larson