North Dakota towns of Mayville and Portland to be spotlighted on national television

The main focus of the "Small Town Big Deal" episode in Mayville will be the Farmers Bowl, featuring the Mayville State University football team playing Dickinson State University on Sept. 18.

A Mayville State student walks across Mayville State University campus in this 2018 file photo. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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The North Dakota communities of Mayville and Portland will be filmed this fall by producers of the nationally syndicated television program "Small Town Big Deal."

The main focus of the episode in Mayville will be the Farmers Bowl, featuring the Mayville State University football team playing Dickinson State University on Sept. 18. The show’s hosts, Jann Carl and Rodney Miller, plan to visit Mayville and Portland from Sept. 16-19, said Brian Van Horn, Mayville State University president.

Miller is a former chief executive officer of McCormick International and worked for other agricultural businesses and Carl is a former “Entertainment Tonight” host who also has a farm background, according to the "Small Town Big Deal" website .

“They’ll highlight the Farmers Bowl and all of the activities surrounding that, and work in all these other great things about the community on the other days,” Van Horn said. “Time is short for production; we’ll try to get them out to as many places as we can.”

He gave the producers a list of places in Traill County to consider visiting when they are in Mayville and Portland, including the American Crystal Sugar Beet Co. plant in Hillsboro, dances hosted by Elroy Lindaas in his barn near Mayville , and Soholt Bakery, a Mayville business that has been in the same family for 100 years.


The television show, broadcast on 268 U.S. stations and also internationally, is a celebration of America that showcases the heritage of the United States and pays tribute to unsung heroes, the "Small Town Big Deal" website said.

Van Horn and his staff contacted the television show’s producers in 2018 after watching a few episodes of the show. They have been promoting Mayville and Portland since, Van Horn said.

North Dakota is one of only a handful of states that hasn’t been featured on "Small Town Big Deal," and Van Horn pitched the beauty of the state and the support the communities of Mayville and Portland give to the university, he said.

“A small, public university is not present everywhere. ... The university is such a part of this region, and of the agricultural community, and the businesses and the alumni support it tremendously,” Van Horn said.

Meanwhile, Mayville State University students appreciate the kindness shown to them by community residents, and vice versa, he said. For example, from his office window, he sees students visit the home of an elderly resident and clear off her sidewalks when it snows.

“These are things that make Mayville, N.D., a special place to work and live,” Van Horn said. ”That’s our goal: to show that the small-town lifestyle is really very beautiful when you see neighbors helping neighbors.”

Brian Van Horn, Mayville State University president.
Brian Van Horn.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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