Year of the arts: A month-by-month recap of 2018 in local A&E

A lot has happened during our most recent trip around the sun. Can you remember it all? Fortunately, we can. Reminisce on 2018 with The Forum's year-end roundup of arts and entertainment.

Ed Sheeran performs Oct. 17, 2018, during his "Divide Tour" stop at the Fargodome. Forum file photo

FARGO — Wow. We have survived another 365 days in a row — congratulations for another successful trip around the sun!

It was a year packed to the brim, both across the world and right here in Fargo-Moorhead. Kick back, take a break and reminisce on 2018 with this roundup of the year in arts and entertainment.


Frostival got Fargo-Moorhead folk movin' in the cold month of January. Forum file photo

The folks at the Fargodome knocked it out of the park to start the year . While many were wondering about housing developments in Dilworth and the “Minneapolis Miracle" as the Vikings were vying for a Super Bowl apperance , Fargo was gearing up for a performance by Kevin Hart . On Jan. 19, Hart took to the Fargodome for his comedy show.


Hart wasn’t the only big event of the month. The midwinter festival known as Frostival returned for its third year, and it just kept getting better. A family dance, mobile sauna, chili feed, snow yoga and more, all aimed at keeping people active while beating cabin fever. Starting the year off right with a show by a well-known comedy star and winter festival set the bar high for the rest of the year, one that was full of events for the whole family.


There was an Olympics this year, and for three Fargoans, February marked the trip of a lifetime as they crossed the ocean to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

While the excitement and disappointment of sports can weigh heavy, the Plains Art Museum in Fargo tried to put a song back in people’s hearts. The opening of musician and visual artist Mark Applebaum’s show, “Picturing Music,” brought images to life with sounds , allowing audiences to experience his work — including the 72-foot-long pictographic score called “The Metaphysics of Notation” — like never before.


Puddles Pity Party performed at The Fargo Theatre in March. Emily Butler Photography / Special to The Forum

In March, The Forum’s own John Lamb got the opportunity to speak with the unspeaking (kind of) when Puddles Pity Party made a stop at The Fargo Theatre. Puddles, a rich baritone who broke out on the internet and became a national star in just eight short months, brought his hulking figure, complete with crooked gold crown, to stages across the country for a performance unlike any other — covering contemporary pop singles for crowds of all ages.

The Fargo Theatre was hopin’ for more than just a pity party, though. The Fargo Film Festival returned to the venue for its 17th year, screening more than 100 films ranging in length from two minutes to two hours. Audiences also had an opportunity to meet with filmmakers during luncheons held at the nearby Dempsey’s.



In April, Fargo Moorhead Ballet helped to change expectations of a local ballet company with its folktale rendition of “Aladdin.” Fargo Moorhead Ballet / Special to The Forum

Spring is a time for new beginnings, but for some, it can also mark the end of a season — and that was the case for the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. The group went out with a bang this year, promising the audience a true “grand finale” to another great season, featuring a cherished piece from the Romantic period, a new work by a local composer and a performance by featured pianist Claire Huangci.

There is no shortage of culture in the Fargo-Moorhead area, and while the FMSO closed its season, Fargo Moorhead Ballet helped to change expectations of a local ballet company with its  folktale rendition of “Aladdin.” With brightly colored, ornate costumes and beautiful movements, dancers brought a twist to the story audiences know and love.

The theater community also felt a loss in April with the passing of West Fargo native Jan Maxwell, an acclaimed Broadway star . A memorial concert was held in her memory at Minnesota State University Moorhead.


Theater was big in the area this year, with the Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre (FMCT) becoming too big for its space. The troupe  expanded into downtown Fargo  in a space now called Studio 6 from its longtime nearby home at The Stage at Island Park. FMCT staged many productions in 2018, including performances of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in April, “Xanadu” and “Rent” in July and “The Laramie Project” in October, just to name a few.

College theater seems to ramp up as soon as busy class schedules wind down. The 55th season of MSUM’s Straw Hat Players was no exception. The fast-paced world of college community theater invited roughly 50 cast members to produce four plays in just six weeks. This year’s performances included “How to Talk Minnesotan: The Musical” in May and “All Hands on Deck!,” “The Last Five Years” and “Guys and Dolls” in June.


Country singer Joe Nichols played Happy Harry's RibFest in June. Forum file photo


Ahh... June. School is out, the days get warmer and the nights seem to last forever. Music fills the air and the smell of barbecue wafts into the noses of adults and children alike. Happy Harry’s RibFest rolled into the Fargodome parking lot again to feed the hungry masses with that sweet, sweet rib meat, while performances by Steve Earle, Joe Nichols, Stephen Pearcy and ThundHerStruck and Paradise Kitty kept music lovers dancing into the night.

June may be the favorite month of many kiddos in the area. It’s the first month of freedom from school and the warmer days mean children can play and run outside without fear of their toes freezing off. Midwest Kid Fest , an annual event especially for kids and their parents, kicked off its 19th year with a Teddy Bear Parade through Island Park in downtown Fargo and included a day full of food, activities and fun.


Didn’t it seem like just yesterday we were on the lakes, sipping our canned beverages  of choice and enjoying summer sun and fireworks ? Or maybe you were preparing to rock out at WE Fest,  one of the biggest country music festivals in our area near Detroit Lakes, Minn.? Wherever the summer sun took you, it was sure to be a party.

Especially when rock legends from both sides of the pond teamed up for a show that kept the wheel in the sky turnin’ as sugar was poured on the crowd at the Fargodome well into the night on July 28. The  Journey and Def Leppard concert may have rounded out the month, but before they made their stop here, several major acts took the stage in West Fargo for the Red River Valley Fair . Bush, Aaron Watson and High Valley, Brothers Osborne and Seether were all on the lineup for the five-day spectacular.


The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra and Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome once again teamed up for Symphony Rocks in August. Urban Toad Media / Special to The Forum

August was another month of music. Well, not really, but if you’re asking anyone in Moorhead, it definitely was. Bluestem Amphitheater hosted 11 concerts over the summer, with acts like Billy Currington , MercyMe and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats playing to sold-out crowds. Jason Mraz and Duluth’s Trampled by Turtles took the stage near the end of August and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Symphony Rocks” concert with Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome got a chance to shine in the outdoor space. Overall, more than 27,000 people attended the concert series , making it one of the biggest yet, just behind the 2016 season when 16 shows drew more than 28,000.


The stars aligned — or, rather returned — for the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s season-opening concert . Two of the group’s most popular guest soloists from the past decade took to the stage to introduce the 2018-19 season.


After many months of construction, Moorhead's Junkyard Brewing Co. unveiled its new indoor space , more than doubling its original space and creating a larger area for music and warmth during the cold winter months.

Country crooner Toby Keith hit the stage at Scheels Arena , red Solo cup in hand, playing to a crowd ready to hear the hits of one of country music’s most-successful stars.


The RedBall Project bounced into Fargo-Moorhead in October for a weeklong installation. Forum file photo

What comes to mind when you think October? Is it pumpkins? Leaves? The color orange? Fargo was definitely seeing orange mid-month as British singer Ed Sheeran made his headlining debut at the Fargodome, fiery red hair and all.

However, orange isn’t the only color that shined this month. The RedBall Project bounced around the area , wedging itself into places like the Plains Art Museum, Minnesota State University Moorhead, the Fargo Theatre and more on its weeklong public art installation around the community .

The Fargo Theatre, a historical landmark in the heart of downtown, hosted several big shows this month, including concerts by  drag queen Trixie Mattel , The Fabulous Armadillos and Collective Unconscious doing a tribute to the Eagles (commemorating the band's greatest hits record, the best-selling album of all time), and Rufus Wainwright .


Turkey and stuffing and potatoes, oh my! As fall truly gets into full swing — during that awkward transition between spooky season and Christmas season — the acts just kept a comin’.


The national opening of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” had many feeling nostalgia for the days of another one bitin’ the dust and gunpowder and turpentine. Fortunately, tribute act “Killer Queen” helped the public get through the difficult time with a performance to chase away the days of yore and channel the Freddie Mercury-led Queen.

After the turkey had been gobbled and guests had been stuffed, it was time to shift focus to the most wonderful time of the year. Marking the beginning of the Christmas season for the area for 92 years, the Concordia College Christmas Concert shared the talents of hundreds of staff and students with big crowds, including traveling performances in the Twin Cities.


While the last few months have been a blur, it should be easy to remember December. Theater was the name of the game to end the year. A musical version of holiday favorite “A Christmas Story” came to the stage as FMCT brought a twist to the classic film. Theatre B rounded out its 2018 on a high note, adding two more shows to its popular run of “The Santaland Diaries” after selling out a majority of the performances.

Brothers Osborne headlined a concert at Scheels Arena in south Fargo, and The Blenders took their place at The Fargo Theatre for the annual run of their hometown Christmas concerts.

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