AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. ShipmanFarmer Editor
The return of Homefest to Watford City’s Main Street this coming weekend will not only officially mark the June 21 arrival of summer, but also kick off a great summer of fun events that will be happening in and around the city and county.
And, thanks to a lot of local businesses who stepped forward this year to keep Homefest alive, this year’s events will offer plenty of things for all of Watford City’s former residents who are making their trip back home this weekend.
For those that may not remember, Watford City’s Homefest began following the city’s 75th anniversary in 1989 when 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 would be a focal point for the start of the summer.
Obviously, the idea caught on. And in spite of a few hiccups this year as to whether or not Homefest would be held, the tradition will continue. Homefest was never intended to be everything to everyone. It had a simple formula, which was combine a couple of street dances with a variety of special events with family and class reunions and you could have an event that drew former residents and classmates back to town.
Headlining this year’s events will be the annual Missoula Children’s Theatre production and street dances on Main Street on Friday and Saturday. But there is much more happening to make it a fun weekend in Watford City including a Relay For Life Run, a Street Fair and kids games on Main Street, a Parade of Progress, baby and pet pageants, the ribbon-cutting of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems’ new hospital and clinic, Art in the Park, and the Trish Gravos Memorial Golf Scramble to name just a few.
So once again, Watford City is ready to roll out the red carpet to former residents and classmates who probably have not been back to the community for several years. And no doubt they will be surprised, and hopefully pleased by the changes that this community has seen over the past several years.
For many of our returning guests, Watford City is no longer the small, sleepy town that they remember. We have grown from a sleepy little town of 1,500 people to a thriving community of over 7,500. While many aspects of the city remain the same, in the past 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of new construction. From new homes and apartments to new retail opportunities. From a new high school and the Rough Rider Center to new four-story office buildings and new roads.
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 has happened since 2013 is hard to comprehend. So imagine what former graduates or residents 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 years ago has been replaced with a much different lifestyle with bypasses around our city and four-lane highways built to accommodate increased truck and other oilfield traffic.
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!