IMPACT MAGAZINE: The area's notable food-focused events and the activities that go along with them

Chuck Hern brushes barbecue sauce onto a grill full of ribs Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at the Aussom Aussie booth during the opening day of Happy Harry's Ribfest at the Fargodome. Hern has worked with the owner of Aussom Aussie for 20 years. Forum file photo

While the consumption is undoubtedly the best part, there is more to food than just eating.

In Fargo, there are several events that provide the opportunity for entertainment and other activities to accompany the food.

Happy Harry’s Ribfest

“The official kickoff to summer” is a four-day event from Wednesday through Saturday, as some of the country’s top rib vendors fill the Fargodome’s parking lot.

Bosses of BBQ compete for the Critics Choice Award and cash prizes. Area judges, tapped by the Ribfest committee, select a winner based on appearance, tenderness and most importantly, taste.

Beyond the mouthwatering food, patrons can enjoy family activities throughout and live entertainment to cap each night.


There are plenty of deals throughout the festival as well, including the “Lip Smackin’ Lunch Special” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. During the special, guests enjoy free parking, free admission, two free sides and the first 100 people receive a free premium gift.

The indulgent event has been going for more than 23 years.

Getty Images / Special to The Forum

Hotdish Festival

To some, a dish where one takes several ingredients such as meat, veggies, potatoes and noodles and placing them all in the same dish to bake is considered a “casserole.” To Midwesterners, especially North Dakotans and Minnesotans, this is called a “hotdish.”

Perhaps the most prominent is tater tot hotdish. This hearty Midwestern delicacy traditionally consists of ground beef, potatoes, celery, onions, corn and cream of mushroom soup all combined in a baking pan and topped with tater tots. The great debate continues on whether green beans can — or should — be used in place of or in combination with the corn.

The 2019 inaugural Hotdish Festival, hosted by Drekker Brewing Company, celebrated the Midwestern comfort food by inviting out a dozen eateries to present their hotdishes. Participants included Wurst Bier Hall, Blackwood Woodfire, Potato Brothers, Boiler Room and more.

A ticket to the festival got patrons a free beer, hotdish-related swag and unlimited hotdish samples.


Downtown Fargo Street Fair

Spending money while attending one of Fargo’s biggest events of the year is optional because admission to the Downtown Fargo Street Fair is free.

Every year, the three-day fair welcomes hundreds of vendors and more than 120,000 visitors. As far as the food goes, attendees can enjoy eats such as fry bread tacos and corn dogs to giant gyros.

Other attractions offered by the 250-plus vendors include handmade art, crafts, beer, wine and live, on-street entertainment.

Jim Frost flips fresh pancakes Saturday, March 12, 2016, during the Fargo Kiwanis Club Pancake Karnival at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum

Kiwanis Pancake Karnival

This year marked the 61st annual Kiwanis Pancake Karnival. One of the nation’s largest pancake feeds has become one of the more recognizable in the region, serving over 10,000 people and 30,000 pancakes each year.

The Karnival was featured in the best-selling book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and set the Guinness World Record for most pancakes served within eight hours in 2008, prior to passing the torch to Lubbock Lions Club Annual Pancake Festival the following year.

To accompany the copious amount of pancakes, the Karnival usually plans to shell out 4,000 pounds of sausage and 21,000 ounces of syrup.


One can really get some bang for their buck here, as the cost for a ticket is $7 if purchased in advance or $8 at the door.

Funds raised at the event benefit organizations and community projects such as the Special Olympics, YMCA, Sanford Children’s Hospital, Trollwood Performing Arts, the YWCA, Salvation Army and many more.

Food Truck Festival

Mobile meal dealers have stormed onto Fargo’s food scene with 2019 featuring the sixth annual Food Truck Festival.

Head out to the North Dakota Horse Park in north Fargo to check out 20 of Fargo’s and the region’s top food trucks for more food and fun than you know what to do with.

Tyler Heins, dressed as a bacon strip, and Emily Duma, wearing a beer bottle costume, pose for photos with patrons Saturday, March 5, 2016, during the Beer and Bacon Festival at Scheels Arena in south Fargo. The event featuerd the region’s top 25 eateries and over 100 specialty craft beers in a competition for the festival’s Squealer Award. David Samson / The Forum

Bacon & Beer Fest

Bacon and beer. A match made in heaven.

This delightful duo is celebrated by featuring numerous bacon dishes from 20-plus local restaurants, along with more than 125 different samples of craft beer.


Along with the goodies, the event features a bacon-eating contest, mechanical pig riding and live entertainment.

Not there to drink? Designated drivers get half-price admission.


Get your daily (or weekly) dose of carbs by indulging in Fargo’s finest craft brews and potato-based dishes as local chefs compete for top prize.

Patrons can also enjoy activities like live music, a silent auction and games.

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