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Drew Wrigley and Sara Otte Coleman: Tourism Week marks start of vacation season

BISMARCK — If Herald readers haven’t started thinking about that summer road trip, now is a great time to start planning.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple has proclaimed May 3-11 Travel and Tourism Week in North Dakota, officially kicking off the summer travel season.

Plus, it’s a time to celebrate our state’s strong tourism industry and the unique things to see and do that attract people from all over the world.

Tourism is one of North Dakota’s top industries and an important part of our strong economy. All North Dakota communities — large and small — benefit from tourism. It supports businesses and creates jobs. Remarkably, one out of 12 jobs in the state is in the tourism industry.

While tourism is good for our economy, it’s also good for our family relationships. Did you know that 90 percent of young people ages 8-18 see family travel as a chance to spend quality time with their parents? (Yes, our teen-aged kids really do want to spend time with us!)

Or, that they rank going on a family vacation higher than all other activities in their mind? With everyone’s busy lives these days, it’s good to know that the good old-fashioned vacation is still a cherished way to reconnect and make life-long memories.

This year, readers can create special legendary family memories by celebrating North Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood. As North Dakotans, we’ve been blessed in many ways, and this historic milestone is a great occasion to celebrate our rich culture and heritage.

Two signature events will be held Aug. 16 and Nov. 2, the state’s official 125th birthday.

  •  The August event will be held on the Capitol grounds and will showcase the best of North Dakota with home-grown entertainment, food, crafts and games. Some of the acts confirmed to perform at the event include Tigirlily, Chuck Suchy, The Burning Hills Singers, The Blenders, Mitch Malloy, Robby Vee, Jessie Veeder, Dakota Air, Keith Bear, Kevin Locke and Greg Hager.
  •  The commemoration of the state’s official birthday on Nov. 2 will coincide with the grand opening of the new North Dakota Heritage Center. Plus, North Dakotans will want to catch many of the regional community events across the state throughout the summer.

People also can celebrate North Dakota’s 125th anniversary in their own way. North Dakota Tourism has created a list, “125 ways to Luv N.D.,” featuring adventures and experiences unique to North Dakota.

The categories span everything from food, outdoors, sports, fun and history and can be found at

This summer, we encourage Herald readers to get out and see the spectacular state around them and create legendary family memories that will last a lifetime.

Wrigley is lieutenant governor of North Dakota and chairman of North Dakota’s 125th Anniversary Committee. Otte Coleman directs the tourism division of the North Dakota Department of Commerce.