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Red River Valley Fair Association CEO responds to man camp expansion concerns

The CEO of the Red River Valley Fair Association is trying to ease concerns from neighbors about a proposed campground expansion.

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WDAY News
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FARGO — Both neighbors and the CEO for the Red River Valley Fairgrounds Association have referred to it as a "man camp." The fair hopes to complete a $3.5-million project to expand its RV campground to accommodate demand from construction workers. Neighbors worry it will bring more crime to West Fargo.

Dozens of people fill the campgrounds long after the rides come down for the summer, and Fairgrounds CEO Cody Cashman said the demand is always incredibly high.

"During the fair, the carnival cannot stay at our campgrounds," Cashman said. "We don't have enough spaces."

Inching closer to some West Fargo homes, he wants to add more campsites.

"I would like there to be 500 or 1,000, because then I could actually do the RV rallies," Cashman said. "But realistically, it would be great to have another 50 to 100."

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The neighbors told West Fargo city commissioners last week they do not want the expansion to happen, saying they are worried about an uptick in drugs and human trafficking. While Cashman concedes that deputies occasionally get called to the camp, he insists human trafficking has never been a problem there.

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He told WDAY News that sex offenders cannot live at the camp, since they are unable to register residency there.

"The parole officers will occasionally call us, and as soon as we find out, we're like, 'whoa, whoa, you can't claim residency here.' So, they automatically have to leave," he said.

According to Cashman, 80% of the people living at the campground are in town to work, mostly in construction. The demand will soon be driven up by the FM Diversion project. He also recalls traveling nurses, long-term visitors and even FBI agents living there.

If the camp expands, the city is setting up rules, like not being able to build within 500 feet of an existing house. Cashman is working around these restrictions, but he said it goes against his initial plans.

"I don't agree with it, because again, the fair was here first," he said. "I could preach that until I'm blue in the face. You chose to buy a house next to the fairgrounds.

"The fair brings the value of a house up regardless of what anyone tells you," Cashman added. "If that wasn't the case, they wouldn't have built those houses there, and everything around the fair will soon be housing."

WDAY News spoke with Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner about what calls for service they get at the campgrounds. The sheriff's office is working on getting the data from the past two years.

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The West Fargo City Commission will make its final vote on a zoning change for the expansion Monday, Oct. 3. If the vote fails, Cashman said, the campground expansion will not move forward.

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