N.D. holiday tourism events

BISMARCK — The state Tourism Division suggests these family-friendly events this holiday season.

15th annual Medora’s Old Fashioned Cowboy Christmas

Medora

Dec. 3-4

Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages come together for the 15th annual event. Activities include wreath ceremony, musical entertainment, eats on the steet, cowboy poetry and fireworks display. http://www.medorandchamber.com/ 701-623-4910.

Frontier Winter at Fort Union

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, near Williston

Dec. 4-5

Journey to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site for a hands-on look at frontier life. The Fort Union Muzzle Loaders will occupy Fort Union, acting the role of American Fur Company employees during the winter. www.nps.gov/fous/index.htm.   701-572-9083

Custer Christmas

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Mandan

Dec. 11-12

Experience an 1875 Christmas with General Custer on the Dakota prairie. Sing carols and make cookies and decorations. www.fortlincoln.com 701-667-6380.

Christmas at the Confluence

Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, Williston

Dec. 12

Enjoy a wonderful winter concert, make your own hand-crafted ornaments and enjoy special treats during this special Christmas at the Confluence. 701-572-9034

Holiday Train

Hankinson, Enderlin, Harvey, Minot, Carpio

Dec. 15-16

Lighted Canadian Pacific Train rolls through North Dakota with stops in several North Dakota towns. On-board musical entertainment at each stop.  http://www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/events/festival-details.asp?AID=4230

Holly Jolly Zoo Days

Red River Zoo, Fargo

Dec. 18-19

Take the family to the zoo this holiday season and enjoy a variety of holiday activities, visit with Santa Claus, ride the carousel then finish up with hot cocoa and cookies. http://www.redriverzoo.org/ 701-277-9240

Papa’s Polar Patch

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, Bismarck

Dec. 26-Jan. 3

Visitors of all ages will discover snow-covered bale mazes and caves, old-fashioned sled rides, horse-drawn sleigh rides, Slide Mountain, the Polar Pond ice-skating rink, Papas’ville and more. http://www.papaspolarpatch.com/. 701-224-1253.

These are just some of the North Dakota activities and events in December. For more information, go to NDtourism.com

Licensed grain elevators increase for first time in 15 years

News release from the Public Service Commission:

For the first time since 1995, the number of licensed grain elevators has increased for the current license year beginning Aug. 1. This increase includes new construction of grain elevators at Surry, New Rockford and Maddock, along with relicensing of the ethanol plant at Hankinson and the canola oilseed crushing facility at Northwood. 

Commissioner Tony Clark, who holds the portfolio for grain elevators, said the increased level of licenses is a sign of growth in North Dakota’s ag sector.

“This is another indicator of the diversification of our ag economy,” Clark said. “We are seeing a number of facilities like processors, organics and specialized crops that were less prevalent than in the past.”

In addition to the number of licenses granted, the PSC is also seeing an increase in the total number of bushels licensed. Since Aug. 1, the commission has approved 18 capacity increase requests totaling 3.2 million bushels. This is the largest increase in storage since 2007 when the commission approved 31 requests totaling 5.6 million bushels during the same period of time.           

The average capacity of licensed grain elevators continues to increase. It is currently 890,700 bushels, compared to 569,500 bushels in the 2000-2001 license years. Since 1990, the average capacity has consistently increased. 

The commission currently licenses 399 grain facilities, an increase of nine from last year. The commission also licenses roving grain buyers. As of Aug. 1, there were 71 licensed roving grain buyers, an increase of four from the same time a year ago.

“Grain elevators and grain buyers are required to be licensed and bonded. The bond can provide some protection for those selling grain in North Dakota in the event of default by the licensee,” Commissioner Brian Kalk said. “In addition to the protection provided by the bond, there is also partial protection available to anyone that sells grain via credit-sale contracts.” 

“While the trend in grain handling and shipping has been toward consolidation of small elevators to large facilities, it is interesting to see the actual number of facilities increase slightly. The steady growth in volume of commodities is an indicator of the scientific advancements in agriculture science and the sophistication of modern farmers,” Commissioner Chairman Kevin Cramer said. 

Chart Below Shows Number of Licensed Elevators and Average Capacity(thousands of bushels)

License Year                                        Elevators (as of 8/1/10)      Average Capacity

2010-2011                                               399                                                          890.7

2009-2010                                               390                                                          873.9

2005-2006                                               401                                                          665.0

2000-2001                                               443                                                          569.5

1995-1996                                               486                                                          514.8

1994-1995                                               484                                                          508.3

1985-1986                                               577                                                          345.1

1970-1971                                               658                                                          196.5

1950-1951                                               1025                                                        59.3

Grain Elevator Statistics

Aug. 1, 2010 

State Licensed Elevators:                                                                                                      292

Federal Licensed Elevators:                                                                                                   107

Total Licensed Elevators                                                                                                    399

Roving Grain Buyers                                                                                                               71

Roving Hay Buyers                                                                                                                   0

Firms Operating State Elevators:                                                                                            182

Firms Operating Federal Elevators:                                                                                          18

Total Firms Operating Elevators                                                                                         200 

            State Elevators – Licensed Capacity:                                                   252,659,913 bushels

             Federal Facilities – Licensed Capacity:     102,747,200 bushels 

Total Licensed Capacity                                      355,407,113 bushels