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Pride of Dakota brings its biggest show yet to Alerus

The Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase, a marketplace for North Dakota products from wine and candy to manufactured goods and home decor, is preparing for big things Saturday and Sunday at the Alerus Center.

Pride of Dakota product logo

The Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase, a marketplace for North Dakota products from wine and candy to manufactured goods and home decor, is preparing for big things Saturday and Sunday at the Alerus Center.

"It's our biggest show we've ever had in Grand Forks," said Sara Kelsch of Bismarck, marketing specialist for the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and manager of the Pride of Dakota shows.

"We have 135 companies participating this year and that's up 13 booths from last year," Kelsch said.

The annual Pride of Dakota Holiday Show will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Alerus Center. Admission is $2, or $1 if you bring your own reusable bag. Admission for children younger than 12 is free.

This year there will be some new artists and jewelry makers, as well as four companies selling wine made in North Dakota. Also featured: Gift items, clothing, accessories, food and condiments and books.

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"It's just a really nice variety and, with the increased number of vendors participating, it should be a very good show," Kelsch said.

Pride of Dakota currently does six vendor shows each year, including the four holiday showcases in Grand Forks Saturday and Sunday, Minot (Nov. 12-13), Fargo (Nov. 18-20) and Bismarck (Dec. 2-4).

In 2010, vendors at the four holiday shows reported sales totaling $600,000. However, because many vendors didn't report their gross sales, Kelsch estimates the total was closer to $1 million.

The Grand Forks show drew 5,600 customers last year, up 300 from the year before. Last year, all four holiday shows reported growing numbers of shoppers, Kelsch said.

The shows' continuing growth and popularity is no mystery to her. People feel good about buying products made in North Dakota, she said.

"They feel it's a quality product and they are supporting their fellow North Dakotans," she said. "People really like going to the show and hearing the story behind the product. They like to hear how their fellow North Dakotans turned (their product) into a business, and get that 'feel good' thing, too."

The vendors, too, look forward to the annual shows as a time to reconnect with the friends they've made at previous shows.

The Pride of Dakota program was established in 1985 and has 500 members. A division of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, its mission is to help North Dakota companies market their products.

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If you go

- What: Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase, 135 vendors selling North Dakota products

- When and where: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Alerus Center, Grand Forks

- Admission: $2; $1 for those who bring their own reusable bag; kids younger than 12, free.

- Other shows: Minot, State Fair Center, Nov. 12-13; Fargo Civic Auditorium, Nov. 18-20; Bismarck Civic Center, Dec. 2-4.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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