Peace Garden hosts international fiddling contest

INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDEN—An appreciation for old-time, toe-tapping music brought Americans and Canadians together for an international competition here this weekend.

The 36th annual International Old-Time Fiddlers Contest drew about 30 contestants, ranging in age from elementary school to senior citizens.

Tim Wollenzien, director of the International Music Camp, said the camp has hosted the event for so many years because the art of fiddling has long been part of the culture of this part of the world.

“I think that there are a lot of people who enjoy this kind of music, whether it’s participating in making it or listening to it,” he said. “It’s traditional, and yet it takes a lot of skill. The nice thing is you can be successful at a young age and can continue to enjoy it and do well with it in old age.”

Contestant Mike Page, 71, of Belcourt, N.D., said he’s been fascinated with fiddle music since he was 4 years old.

He taught himself to play and has picked up different techniques throughout the years. He’s competed in the contest at the Peace Garden since it began.

“You learn new things every time you get here and meet different people,” Page said. “It’s enjoyable, you know. That’s what I come for.”

John Quibell of Fargo brought his 6-year-old son Tristan to compete in the small fry division.

“It’s fun. I like to learn stuff, and that makes it fun,” Tristan said of why he likes to play fiddle.

The contest began Saturday morning and will go into the evening. Judges score contestants based on technical ability, rhythm, tone quality and intonation. All songs need to be of “danceable quality.”

To keep the contest objective, judges are tucked away in another room and only allowed to hear the music. They do not know who played each song.

Contestants play a hoedown, a waltz and a selection of his or her choice.

Judge Kay Werre of Fullerton, N.D., has been a serious fiddler for 32 years and enjoys being part of the contest.

“It’s a good, clean form of entertainment,” she said. “It’s a historical type of music that would just die out if people didn’t keep the contests going to keep others interested in playing the music.”

To help keep that interest alive, the weekend included workshops to provide instruction in beginning fiddle, Canadian old-time fiddle and bluegrass fiddle.

Fiddle instructor Ann Schluter of Moorhead said young students who play Suzuki violin are learning fiddling to try something different and enjoy a new challenge.

“It’s fun to play so many different styles. You can learn about different countries through the styles of their music,” she said. “There’s just a real good energy of playing fiddle for dance … that’s mostly what the fiddle style was for, for people dancing. So, it’s just really a fun thing to do and gets a lot of people toe tapping.”

The weekend of events provides fiddle fans with a place to share their love for the music, Wollenzien said.

“It’s great to see the energy and excitement that the teenagers and young children are bringing to fiddling and the fiddling music,” he said. “It’s promising that the art will continue and that people will want to keep playing and making music together.”

Find the video here:

International Old-Time Fiddlers Contest at the Peace Garden

Learning the secrets of fiddling

N.D. tourism strong during July 4 weekend

News release from the ND Tourism Division:


This year’s July Fourth holiday weekend prompted many people to get out and explore North Dakota’s various attractions and state parks. North Dakota Tourism reports strong visitation during the July Fourth holiday period, defined from July 1 to July 5.


State attractions pleased with visitation

From east to west and north to south, many North Dakota attractions experienced positive visitation.


The International Peace Garden near Dunseith attracted both Americans celebrating the long July Fourth holiday weekend, as well as Canadians celebrating a long Canada Day (July 1) weekend and it showed in this year’s numbers.


Doug Hevenor, CEO of the International Peace Garden, reported July Fourth weekend visitation of 4,200 visitors. “Our best weekend last year was during the three-day Métis Festival, which attracted about 5,000 visitors,” Hevenor said. “So, this year’s July Fourth weekend visitation numbers are great. I’m very pleased.”

Hevenor stated many people have been curious about the work being done to the Sunken Garden and the Interpretive Center. “It was great to see the large crowds during the July Fourth holiday weekend. Everything from our retail sales to our food sales reflected the strong visitation numbers.”

In the east, Bonanzaville USA in West Fargo reported a 400% increase in visitation. This year’s July Fourth holiday weekend brought in 434 people, compared to 106 last year during the same timeframe.

Out west, Annette Schilling, public relations and marketing director for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, reported “Medora was hustling and bustling with people.”

According to Schilling, attendance at the nightly Medora Musical was up more than 14% from last year. More than 4,500 people attended the Medora Musical during the July Fourth weekend, compared to 3,950 for the same holiday weekend last year.

In addition, TRMF’s hotel occupancy rates were at 99% on July 3 and 97% on July 4. Schilling said these hotel occupancy rates were comparable to last year’s; however, with the recent expansion of the Rough Riders Hotel and Conference Center, TRMF now has 68 additional hotel rooms.

Camping up at North Dakota State Parks

Many people took advantage of the nice weather by pitching tents or hauling a camper to North Dakota’s state parks. According to North Dakota State Parks and Recreation, the number of campers for this year’s July Fourth weekend was 23,431, an increase of 1,355 or slightly above 6% from last year.

“AAA predicted travel during this July Fourth holiday weekend would increase 17.1 percent nationwide,” said Sara Otte Coleman, director of North Dakota Tourism. “The increase in visitation and camping numbers for North Dakota’s major attractions and state parks during July 1-5 is a positive sign that people are getting out on the road and exploring the various things to see and do throughout our state.”

Discover America creates Top 10 ND list has posted a list of Top 10 Things to Do in North Dakota on its Facebook page. What do you think of the list?

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora and Watford City

Scenic splendor in the ruggedly beautiful North Dakota Badlands, named for the 26th President of the United States and managed by the National Park Service. This beautiful national park has three units, all offering distinctly different views. The Maah Daah Hey Trail is a single-track trail recognized as one of the top mountain biking trails in the U.S. Named an EPIC Ride. Four fenced overnight campsites with hitching posts, vault toilets and campfire rings are available along the trail. The trail is open for hiking, biking and horseback riding use all year.

Fargo Air Museum, Fargo

Come and visit the Fargo Air Museum and see the beautiful and unique aircraft on display, including Goodyear F2G-1D Super Corsair – the world’s only flying Super Corsair; North American P-51D Mustang; a Japanese Zero – Mitsubishi A6M Reisen Zero Fighter; Duggy the Douglas DC-3/C-47 Skytrain; and many more.

The North Dakota Heritage Center, Bismarck

State’s largest museum has an outstanding collection of Plains Indian artifacts and interpretive exhibits that feature North Dakota’s varied American Indian, military and agricultural history and prehistory.

Medora Musical and Pitchfork Fondue, Medora

Broadway-style musical show in spectacular Burning Hills Amphitheatre. The surrounding hills resound with music and laughter at this fast-paced, song-and-dance professional extravaganza.rior to the Medora Musical, experience unique dining atop of one of the area’s highest bluffs offering a spectacular view of the scenic Badlands and the town of Medora. Ribeye steaks are fondued "western style" with all the fixin’s. Live entertainment.

International Peace Garden, Dunseith

2,339-acre botanical garden commemorating peace between the United States and Canada. More than 150,000 flowers, floral clock, 911 memorial, Peace Chapel, Peace Tower, water features, floral displays, hiking, camping, dining, birding and youth camps.

Norsk Høstfest, Minot

The largest Scandinavian festival in North America, the Norsk Hostfest celebrates the heritage and culture of the five Nordic countries with ethnic cuisine, crafts and world-class entertainment.

Mandan Rodeo Days, Mandan

A three-day PRCA rodeo, featuring rodeo action as well as chuckwagon races, gigantic fireworks and pageants. Other activities include Art in the Park festival, carnival, street dances, parades, pitchfork fondue and much more.

United Tribes International Powwow, Bismarck

Contest powwow attracts 20,000 participants and spectators. The annual event is a celebration showcasing "champion" dancers and drums from across the U.S. and Canada, competing for top honors. Also features international cultural exchange dance groups as a special feature. Miss Indian Nations Pageant, Youth Day.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Mandan

General George Custer’s last home is reconstructed, as is the central barracks, granary, commissary and a stable. Tours take visitors back to 1875, the year before the 7th Cavalry rode to the Little Bighorn. Visitor Center and tours of On-A-Slant Indian Village’s five reconstructed earthlodges are also available. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park offers the high-tech treasure hunting known as geocaching.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center/Fort Mandan, Washburn

This interpretive site contains artifacts from every tribe the explorers encountered on their journey. The center’s Bergquist Gallery features a rare complete set of the printed artworks of Swiss artist Karl Bodmer. Fort Mandan is the reconstructed winter home of the Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804-1805. Located on the banks of the Missouri River, the fort was a place of informational and cultural exchange between the explorers and the Northern Plains Indians.