North Dakota Grocers Association comes to the Alerus Center

Owners of Hugo's Family Marketplace advocated for annual convention to take place in Grand Forks.

For the first time in its 57-year history, the North Dakota Grocers Association will hold its annual convention in Grand Forks, at the Alerus Center on Sept. 8-10.

The convention brings together independent grocers and vendors from around North Dakota to participate in breakout sessions -- informational presentations -- to share and get information on a number of topics ranging from social media for grocery stores, to cheese snacking and entertaining trends and cakes for alternative holidays.

There also will be a presentation by author, life coach and speaker Kathryn Vigness on “Leveraging Your Leadership,” as well as silent and live auctions.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the annual convention are the competitions in four categories: Cake Decorating, Floral Design and Smoked Meats, in addition to a Sculpted Cake Challenge.

Hugo’s Family Marketplace will compete in two of the categories, Floral Design and Cake Decorating.


“It is really fun to watch; those cake decorators are artists,” Lisa Mangino Swanson, communications director for Hugo’s Family Marketplace, told the Herald.

The winners will be announced on Monday afternoon with awards being given out at a banquet that evening.

“The venue is actually better because it’s bigger,” said ND Grocers Association President John “Jiggs” Dyste. “It gives us some more opportunity .... They’ve done a great job, the Convention Bureau has been great to work with, and the staff at the Alerus Center has been excellent. We’re very happy with it.”

The convention has been held in Fargo for the past several years, according to Dyste. The decision to hold it in Grand Forks was due, in large part, to efforts going back for years, of the Magnusun family, owners of Hugo’s Family Marketplace.

“The Magnuson family that owns Hugo’s, they have tried for years to get us to come up,” said Dyste. “They’ve been a big part of our organization. Kristi Magnuson Nelson, now the head of the Hugo’s operation, has been on the board for years. We’ve been in one place a long time, and, through their efforts, the board decided let’s go up to Grand Forks and give them a shot at it. And so far, it’s been good.”

The convention, which is not open to the public, will end with a golf outing for members at the Grand Forks Country Club on Tuesday morning.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

Desk: 701-780-1110
What To Read Next
Get Local