AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
While the summer season may have officially arrived on June 21, the real kickoff of summer in Watford City is coming this weekend with the return of Homefest. And what an exciting weekend is on tap as the community welcomes back friends and family members to a weekend of fun and entertainment.
Watford City’s Homefest began 26 years ago following the city’s 75th anniversary. After that event, several Jubilee members decided that if the community could set aside one weekend a year for class and family reunions and have some special entertainment, Watford City could build an annual event that could be a focal point for the start of the summer.
Obviously, the idea caught on. And for the past 26 years, Watford City has continued the tradition of Homefest being held the last weekend of June.
While this year’s Homefest will not have all of the glamour and glitz of last year’s Centennial Celebration, there is still going to be lots of special events, along with the tried and true activities that have made Homefest a success.
Headlining this year’s events will be the Trish Gravos Memorial Golf Scramble on Friday followed by a free concert by Kat Perkins on Friday night on Main Street. And on Saturday, there will be games and events for the children on Main Street, a Parade of Homes, and a street dance on Main Street with Jessie Veeder and Outlaw Sippin’.
Throw in an Art Show at the Long X Visitor Center on Friday and Saturday, as well as the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Watford City’s First Lutheran Church on Sunday and this year’s Homefest will be complete.
Homefest hasn’t changed a lot over the past 26 years, but the city of Watford City certainly has. And the changes that the former residents and graduates of this community will see when they return to Watford City for the first time in many years will no doubt be staggering.
Watford City is no longer the small, sleepy town that they remember. Instead it has turned into a bustling and vibrant community of around 20,000 people with the construction of new buildings, apartments and homes going up in all directions.
Yes, they have probably heard about all of the development from their family and friends. And they may have seen pictures and read stories about all of the changes taking place in and around the community in the McKenzie County Farmer. But they will not fully appreciate just how much the community has changed until they get here.
To say that this community has changed a lot is an understatement. And even for us that live here, the amount of change and the level of new development that is happening on an almost daily basis is hard to comprehend. So imagine what former graduates of Watford City, who haven’t been back to town for 10 or more years are going to think. The slow lifestyle that most former Watford City residents fondly remember of a few years ago has been replaced with a more frantic lifestyle with bypasses around our city and four-lane highways crammed with trucks and other oil-field traffic. The pastures and farmlands along U.S. Highway 85 that once reminded us of our rural lifestyle and provided a calming drive into the city are now dotted with oil wells, lined with oilfield truck yards, oilfield businesses, man camps and residential and commercial developments.
While Watford City may have changed, Homefest has not. It is still one weekend a year that is set aside for families, classmates and former residents to return home to Watford City to renew old acquaintances and to make new friends.
So whether you are a former Watford City resident or one of the thousands of new residents to our community, welcome to Homefest!