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Mike Nowatzki, Forum News Service, Published January 14 2014

Governor kicks off North Dakota’s 125th celebration

BISMARCK – Gov. Jack Dalrymple predicted “one great birthday party” for North Dakota as officials on Tuesday kicked off the 125th anniversary of statehood and unveiled the official logo for the yearlong celebration.

“It has been a very rich story, a very rich heritage for all of our people, and I think we are so proud of our 125-year history,” Dalrymple said. “These are historic times in North Dakota today, with the record growth, the record opportunities for our people. We have much to be thankful for and to celebrate.”

The logo, which features a bison head and sheaves of wheat, was designed by Eric Falde of West Fargo. He received a $500 prize from the North Dakota Humanities Council for having his logo selected over nearly 50 others in a statewide contest, said Janean Rambough, the 125th anniversary coordinator.

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, who led the celebration’s planning committee, announced two signature events, saying, “It’s going to be a tremendous year up ahead.”

An Aug. 16 party on the Capitol grounds will feature homegrown food, crafts, games and entertainment, including musical acts Tigirlily and Chuck Suchy, who both performed for the crowd of about 100 people gathered in the Capitol’s Memorial Hall for Tuesday’s kickoff.

On Nov. 2, the state will commemorate its official 125th birthday with the grand opening of the expanded North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck.

The planning committee is working with communities and groups across the state to plan additional events. Wrigley encouraged communities to organize their own local and regional celebrations.

The state Legislature approved $150,000 for the celebration, Rambough said.

South Dakota also celebrates its quasquicentennial this year, having been admitted to the union on the same day as North Dakota through a proclamation signed by President Benjamin Harrison.

One of South Dakota’s signature events will be a covered wagon train that will travel from Yankton -- the capital of Dakota Territory from 1861 until 1883, when it was moved to Bismarck -- to Pierre from Sept. 3-19, with local historians speaking at each night’s stop along the way, said Mike Mueller, spokesman for the South Dakota Bureau of Administration.

Mueller and Dalrymple spokeswoman Jody Link said officials from the two states are talking about the possibility of a joint celebratory event.

Dalrymple remarked that North Dakota is the 39th state – “one ahead of South Dakota, thank goodness.” He also noted that North Dakota’s Great Seal has 42 stars because it wasn’t known at statehood which number state North Dakota would be. Montana became the 41st state on Nov. 8, 1889, and Washington the 42nd state on Nov. 11, 1889.

“So just to be on the safe side, we put the maximum number of starts on our seal,” Dalrymple said.

To commemorate the 125th anniversary, North Dakota’s Tourism Division developed a list of 125 ways for residents and visitors to love the state at www.luvnd.com.

The committee also is keeping track of the events on Facebook and Twitter at “NorthDakota125” and at www.history.nd.gov.

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com.