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Marilyn Hagerty: Welcome to 'the Forks'

Dear New People,

Now that Labor Day is over and school is upon us, it's time to meet newcomers to "the Forks." That's what some of us like to call Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

This is a place that is small enough so you can make a difference. It also is large enough so you can be anonymous if you wish.

You will see trucks hauling potatoes and sugar beets through the Forks in September and October. Just remember they can't stop on a dime, so you have to drive carefully.

You also will feel the excitement of Potato Bowl days here this week. Thursday, there's a big French fry feed in University Park. And it's free.

Hockey is the name of the game around here. Some say the children learn to ice skate before they walk. But that isn't exactly true. Some children learn to snow ski first.

I know you will like it here.

Most of us rally behind the UND teams. We call them the Hawks. This Friday, the first Friday fan luncheon will be held in the Alerus Center. It's open to everyone, and we need to cheer on the UND football team before their game Saturday with Missouri State. This year, there will be more tailgating than ever around the Alerus. And the UND Marching Band in new uniforms will be there.

You can drive anywhere you want to go in this city without breaking a sweat. Fifteen or 20 minutes should do it. Don't worry if you have trouble with directions. You see, the Red River wiggles around as it flows north to Winnipeg. That makes some of our streets sort of tilted. You can always look for Themis on top of the original Grand Forks County Courthouse. She is the Goddess of Justice. And she will look after you.

You probably have found Widman's candy shop downtown. It's been here a long time. Then there is the Red Pepper on University Avenue, and a restaurant row in East Grand Forks overlooks the river.

The Red is a favorite fishing spot. Every summer there is a catfish contest.

There's a new building for curling here in Grand Forks. And there are hundreds of people who make Norwegian lefse for the holidays. The lefse is their idea of pancakes, I guess.

In Grand Forks, the edges of the streets are called berms. Never call them curbs.

Mayor Mike Brown is a friendly, positive kind of guy. He delivers babies at Altru Hospital. He's always smiling and carries little keys to the city.

We like to welcome the Canadians to Grand Forks. And Winnipeg is a great destination if you are looking for a weekend getaway. You probably know that this is lake country. People make regular trips to fish at Devils Lake or to relax at summer lake places in Minnesota.

There is a winter exodus. Some people around here go south to escape the cold. The rest of us just stay here and watch hockey. We tell ourselves that the cold is invigorating.

You should drop over to the Myra Museum and see the new display of Norwegian settlers. The director, Leah Byzewski, already is making plans for the annual Halloween festivities there.

Here's hoping you feel welcome in Grand Forks.

P.S. The name of the game around here this week is volleyball. There are games Wednesday evening with North Dakota State as well as mid-day Friday and Saturday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.