All News in July, 2018

Activate Downtown Devils Lake: A Vision and Action Plan for Downtown


The ACTIVATE: Downtown Devils Lake vision plan was created by an eleven-member group of community members to create an action plan to improve the future of downtown. Spearheaded by the Devils Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, this project reflects the ideas of community members. More than 65 people contributed ideas to the plan in face-to-face interviews and five public focus groups, and more than 620 locals residents submitted thoughts and ideas online.

Why now?

For two decades, the community has battled the threat of the rising waters of Devils Lake. The cooperation and effort it took to build the flood protection system is now part of the history and local identity. The success of that flood fight now opens the door to the next stage of opportunity for the community.

More than 600 people responded to the call for public input about downtown, and 74% of them said they spend time downtown at least once a week. Eighty-seven percent said that downtown is important to the community as a whole and a worthwhile public investment. Ninety percent agreed that creating a vision and plan for downtown is a good idea. The time in now.

You can download the full report here.

RibFest & Crazy Days – July 14th

RibFest Logo_2018

Come downtown Saturday, July 14 for the 3rd annual RibFest. Crazy Days will also be the same day, along with the Thirsty’s Cornhole tournament. Live entertainment during the day, 8th hour street dance in the evening. Beer gardens, activities for kids, crazy sales!


We are hiring for our Chamber Member Services, Finance & Events Position


This person is responsible for all financial record keeping and payroll for the Chamber. Also responsible for general office functions such as typing, telephone, filing, etc. May be assigned specific Chamber project/committee work by the Executive Director.

Financial Duties and responsibilities include:
Financial record keeping, all accounts payable and receivable for the Chamber, responsible for preparing monthly financial reports and a quarterly budget analysis, assist the Executive Director in preparing a yearly budget, responsible for preparing payroll checks and all reports relating to payroll, ordering of supplies and maintaining inventory.

Chamber Duties and responsibilities include:
Assist and/or takes minutes for specific committees assigned by the Executive Director. Chamber member retention and growth, Chamber liaison to committees such as retail, military affairs, etc., update and maintain member database, update chamber website, social media and calendar of events, distribute information to members via newsletter, e-mail, letters, etc, assist and coordinate chamber events, assist with seminars, luncheons and other special events of the Chamber of Commerce, prepare new member packets and well as relocation packets, and keep a pulse on the community.

Requirements include: a background in payroll responsibilities, strong knowledge in Quickbooks accounting software, Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. Also knowledge in social media channels and website programs such as WordPress. Applicant should also possess great time management skills and the ability to work on more than one task at the same time.

The Chamber of Commerce is now hiring for our Chamber Member Services/Finance/Events position. A fun job that gets you out into the community, working on fun projects and always doing something different! See more details on the Job Service website.

The Devils Lake Area Chamber of Commerce offers a competitive wage, Blue Cross Blue Shield, vacation and sick time off. Send your resume to Paula Vistad, Executive Director at or by mail: PO Box 879, Devils Lake, ND 58301

2018 Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards Announced

Congratulations to Tanner Cherney!

April 17, 2018; Fargo, North Dakota – Five Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards recognizing the passion and dedication of North Dakotans who have contributed to the growth of travel and tourism were presented today at the 2018 North Dakota Travel Industry Conference in Fargo. The awards were presented by Jodi Uecker, chief operating officer in the North Dakota Governor’s Office, Department of Commerce Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman and Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota President Suzie Kenner.

“It’s our pleasure to recognize these exceptional leaders who work hard every day to showcase our state to travelers, making tourism one of North Dakota’s leading industries,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “Their creativity and commitment play an essential role in attracting visitors to our great state. We’re deeply grateful for their vision for creating first-class destinations and their outstanding service to our visitors.”

Tanner Cherney, Devils Lake Tourism, Heritage Award
Tanner has become an invaluable asset to Devils Lake Tourism. Not only does he tackle the day-to-day operations of our front line but he has taken his job to the next level by moving into the additional role of outdoor media coordinator. With this expanded role, we have been able to sustain yearly media events and coordinate outdoor writers and media from all over the Midwest, boosting visibility and visitor growth. Tanner started out as a front-line employee of the CVB where his ability to help visitors continued. As an avid angler and hunter himself, he has become the voice of Devils Lake to those looking for information. For the past year, Tanner has been producing video fishing reports and posting them on our social media channels and website. These have become some of the top-viewed videos on our Facebook page. People now ask for him by name when calling into the CVB or stopping into the visitor center. Fishing spots to anglers can be a touchy subject and Tanner spends his time finding the right locations to give to visiting anglers. This is a very important role to the CVB because of the size of the lake to somebody new. His patience with the visiting public and the time he is willing to commit to make sure everyone’s trip is the vacation of a lifetime is invaluable to our organization and the state of North Dakota.

Red Door Art Gallery, Flint Firestarter Award for Tourism Development Project
The Red Door Art Gallery has invigorated downtown Wahpeton since its opening in 2012 and is considered a Dakota Avenue anchor. The gallery houses local and national art and offers a variety of art classes to the public. It also recently became the headquarters of the city’s visitor center, which funds the art gallery and allows the visitor center to have a presence downtown. The building dates to 1915 as the home of the National Bank, which was in business until 1953. For the next 40 years, the interior of the building changed as numerous businesses built walls and installed a dropped ceiling covering the interior architecture of the building. The building was vacated in 1994 and fell into ruin as the roof leaked and interior structures collapsed. In 2009, local resident Roger Jensen considered the building in his search for a home for the arts where his visionary talents and background in architectural drafting gave him the drive to envision a beautiful art gallery. Red Door Art Gallery has become the cultural center of downtown Wahpeton and also spurred interest for new eateries like Cherry Berry, Boiler Room and City Brew Hall; and the impetus for arts throughout Wahpeton, including murals and Sculpture Park.

Amy Krueger, Legend Award for Travel & Tourism Industry Leader
Amy Krueger has been with the Williston Convention & Visitors Bureau since October 2006 and has served as director for a majority of that time. Since then, the CVB has grown from a shared one-room office in an armory building to a staff of four full-time and several part-time employees working out of a visitor center near the airport. Over the years, she has faced numerous challenges but has always found opportunity in adversity. One example occurred in the spring of 2017 when the local nonprofit caviar organization notified the public it would not offer fish-cleaning services during the short paddlefish season. Amy worked with her board, multiple contractors and North Dakota Game and Fish officials to continue that key service plus the fish-count that was vital to management of the season. Last year, anglers from 37 states and Canadian provinces and 190 communities across North Dakota purchased more than 3300 paddlefish licenses with roughly two-third from outside northwest North Dakota. The elimination of a coordinated season would have had a significant impact on visitor spending during the month of May. Amy recently finished the Certified Destination Management Executive program; served on the Upper Midwest CVB board; served as president of Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota; and serves on the Downtowners Association Board of Directors in order to better market Williston’s historic downtown as a destination. Amy and her team reinvigorated the 90-year-old Band Day festival by introducing professional guest bands and NFL drumlines as participants. She also helped create the North Dakota Chokecherry Festival. When most of the trees in Harmon Park were wiped out by disease, the CVB contracted chainsaw carvers to create three-dimensional art tributes to the area’s Scandinavian heritage from the stripped stumps that were left at the location. The trees are a source of local pride and a popular stopping point and photo op for visitors.

Nicole Blair, Sakakawea Award for Behind the Scenes Tourism Employee
Nicole began her career in the tourism industry 11 years ago as a travel counselor in the Grand Forks Visitor Center. After a stint as sales and services coordinator, Nicole was recently promoted to visitor services manager. She continues to oversee the complimentary event services program and is head of visitor center and operations management at the Greater Grand Forks CVB. Nicole’s dedication to her community is demonstrated by how she continuously goes out of her way to assist groups and provide the service that has become synonymous with the visitors bureau. CVB Executive Director Julie Rygg says, “I remember getting a call one winter night from Nicole that she had heard from a client that had just picked up their packets, signs, gifts, etc. and they had forgotten a box at our office. Nicole bundled her three kids, put them in the car, drove across town to the office, picked up the box and drove it back across town to the hockey arena the event was taking place at. The event was not beginning until the following day, but she did not think twice, she just took care of the client!”

Nick Ybarra, Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation
When we think trailblazers, it’s seldom that we take that term literally. This year’s trailblazer, his wife and the volunteers who help him, spend thousands of hours each year blazing one trail in particular through the Badlands of North Dakota. In 2002, Nick Ybarra set out on the overgrown, much neglected and very hard to follow Maah Daah Hey Trail. What he found was beauty, adventure and release from stress and worries. This first trip mountain biking through the Badlands instilled a love, respect and connection to the rugged and peaceful land. Nick knew this trail needed to be saved and he set out to accomplish that task through developing relationships, mowing, shoveling and anything else that needed to be done to clear the trail. In 2016, he founded a non-profit called Save the Maah Daah Hey. This organization puts in the hard work necessary to get the trail into pristine condition each year. From 2012 to 2018, volunteers spent more than 5,000 hours transforming the trail back into a world-class single-track destination. Nick was determined to get more people to experience the wonder of Devils Pass, China Wall and the rest of the Maah Daah Hey. His solution was to host a race. That first year, 67 people signed up for the Maah Daah Hey 100. Nick has expanded this one race into seven different races in the “Badlands Race Series,” connecting to both Watford City and Medora. Each race has grown steadily over the years and this past year nearly 600 riders from 35 different states and Canada participated. Through the tough times, Nick never quit. His tireless efforts and perseverance have laid the foundation for a truly remarkable experience in western North Dakota and has earned Nick Ybarra the 2018 Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation

Local Chamber Director Named One of the Top 25 Women in Business by Prairie Business Magazine


GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Prairie Business is proud to announce its 2018 Top 25 Women in Business winners. More details about each one are included in the March issue of the magazine, the digital edition of which is available here.

Now in its fifth year, the annual contest was created to draw attention to the many creative, successful businesswomen in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota.

Honorees were selected through a nomination process that emphasized professional achievement, community contributions and volunteerism. The 25 winners come from finance, construction, health care, retail and other industries, and have made exceptional contributions in their chosen fields and communities.

“We’re truly inspired by this year’s winners, all of whom are dedicated and high-achieving professionals,” said Tom Dennis, Prairie Business editor.

“We’re honored to showcase the winners and their achievements in the pages of this month’s magazine. Congratulations to them all.”

This year’s Top 25 Women in Business are:

● Becky Baker – Environmental Planner, KLJ, Sioux Falls, S.D.

● Haylee Cripe – Attorney and vice president, Mackoff Kellogg Law Firm, Dickinson, N.D.

● Amber Ferrie – Partner in transaction services, Eide Bailly, Fargo, N.D.

● Tiffany Ford – Associate state director, North Dakota Small Business Development Centers, Grand Forks, N.D.

● Laura Hagstrom – Water resources engineer, Widseth Smith Nolting, Alexandria, Minn.

● Jen Hanley – Technical manager, Ulteig, Fargo, N.D.

● Deidre Hillman – Program Director, North Dakota Women’s Business Center, Bismarck, N.D.

● Brittney Hogan – Executive Director, Minot Public Schools Foundation, Minot, N.D.

● Kristi Huber – President, United Way of Cass-Clay, Fargo, N.D.

● Vicki Karpyak – Senior Vice President and Director of Operations, First International Bank & Trust, Watford City, N.D.

● Dori Leslie – President/vice president, CHI Friendship, Fargo, N.D.

● Ann McConn – Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Alerus, Fargo, N.D.

● Liza McLean – Co-owner, Smiling Moose Deli franchises, Grand Forks, N.D.

● Sarah Meusburger – Human Resources Director, Banner Associates, Brookings, S.D.

● Michelle Miller – Human Resources Divisional Director, KLJ, Bismarck, N.D.

● Cris Oehler – Vice President, Public Relations, Otter Tail Power Co., and Vice President, Corporate Communication, Otter Tail Corp., Fergus Falls, Minn.

● Alexis Odden – Audit Manager, Eide Bailly, Fargo, N.D.

● Erin Ostler – Vice President of Sales, Midco, Minneapolis

● Tari Rayala – Architectural Team Leader, Karvakko, Bemidji, Minn.

● Cindy Schreiber-Beck – President, CinderWhit Co., Wahpeton, N.D.

● Lorena Starkey – General Manager, Hyatt House Minot, Minot, N.D.

● Brooke Swier Schloss – Partner, Swier Law Firm, Sioux Falls, S.D.

● Karen Thingelstad – Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Grand Forks, N.D.

● Paula Vistad – Executive Director, Devils Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Devils Lake, N.D.

● Billi Jo Zielinski – President and CEO, Make-A-Wish North Dakota, Fargo, N.D.

Please join us from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, in the Dakota Ballroom at the Avalon Events Center, 2525 9th Ave. S. in Fargo, N.D., to celebrate the 2018 Top 25 Women in Business and 2017 40 Under 40. It’s free! Food, drinks and fun. RSVP at

About Prairie Business magazine: For 17 years, Prairie Business magazine has served as the only business-to-business magazine dedicated to the northern Plains. More than 20,000 print and digital copies are distributed monthly. The magazine focuses on successes and opportunities in the northern Plains states of North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota and covers a variety of business topics including higher education, finance, architecture and engineering, agribusiness, energy, health care, economic development, tourism, technology and construction.

Devils Lake Visitor Guide ADDY Award Winner


DEVILS LAKE, ND. – The Advertising Federation of North Dakota yearly ADDY Awards were held in Fargo on Friday, February 23. We are pleased to announce that the official 2018 Devils Lake Visitor Guide was entered into the brochure category and won a Gold Addy Award in the category. The piece was judged by Mike Weber, Creative Director from CMR Studios, Tampa Bay, Lindsey Anderson, Owner of Six Leaf Design out of Denver, Colorado, and Chris Schulles, Chief Creative Officer from McGuffin Creative Group.

Creative design credits go to Billie Michele Stanton, Graphic Designer as well as the Devils Lake Tourism Department – Suzie Kenner and Tanner Cherney. “We strive to put together an award winning piece every year, but our main focus is selling Devils Lake to the traveler. We want to showcase all that Devils Lake has to offer, on the water and off,” says Suzie Kenner, Executive Director of the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau. The department prints 40,000 copies annually and they are distributed in vacation packet requests through our website as well as, the North Dakota rest area program, sport and travel shows around the Midwest, our visitor center as well as all the other cities in the state, and can be downloaded digitally through our website and Facebook page.

“An important factor that we have taken into consideration the last few years is our photography. Producing high-end photography that we are able to use in print publications and on-line has been a great tool for us to engage the viewer and show off our attractions and activities in a creative way,” states Kenner.

Another piece to the puzzle is the use of the #devilslakend hashtag. The Devils Lake Tourism Department has been utilizing this hashtag on their own as well as finding creative ways to engage locals and visitors to upload their photographs on Instagram and tag their pictures. “It is a fun way to highlight other people’s experiences in Devils Lake to showcase true experiences by those traveling or living here,” Kenner states. “Photography through real experiences is a great way to showcase our area, and engage our audience.”

To see the full list of winners of the 2018 North Dakota Advertising Federation, click here. All gold-winning entries will move on to the district competition that will be judged on March 23, 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and winners announced on April 13, 2018.

For more information on the 2018 Devils Lake Visitor Guide, or to distribute them in your business, please contact Suzie Kenner or Tanner Cherney at 1.800.233.8048 for more information.

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Community Survey for the Downtown Initiative

Please take a minute to complete the attached community survey for the Downtown Initiative. We need to have as many completed surveys returned to us as possible by January 23rd, 2018. Your input is important to us, please take a minute to complete this survey.

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