May 22, 2013

Arnegard readies for its Centennial

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Arnegard is a city that boasts of basketball championships and baseball games, high school marching bands and farming. Its history is rich with stories of settlers who came to western North Dakota and settled in Arnegard because the coulees were good for ranching. And of homesteaders who came with nothing, claimed their stake and started not only a family, but helped raise a community.
In a little over a month, the city of Arnegard will celebrate its 100th birthday. According to members of the Arnegard Centennial Committee, the birthday party will be a time of fanfare as well as homecoming.
“Most of the calls I am taking about the Arnegard Centennial Celebration are from people who were born here and lived here, then moved away,” states Wanda Steen, of the Centennial Committee.
“One of the big draws to those who have moved away is all the changes that have taken place in the city,” states Orville Mjelstad of the Centennial Committee. “They all hear so much from their family that is still living here that they want to come and see it for themselves.”
According to the Centennial Committee members, though a lot has happened and many changes have occurred, they want to highlight all of Arnegard’s historical moments.
“People still talk about the fires that took Main Street,” states Mjelstad.
The first fire started in January 1959, and was followed by a second fire two months later, in March. Though both fires took Main Street, they didn’t destroy it, or Arnegard’s spirit. Two years later, in 1961, the Arnegard High School boys basketball team won the State Class C Basketball Championship.
“Talk about underdogs,” states Steen. “They were never supposed to win regional.”
According to the committee, practically the entire city of Arnegard went to Bismarck to cheer their team on in person.
“That night the street was lined with cars coming back from Bismarck,” states Ed Bazer, of the Centennial Committee.
Roughly two decades later, Arnegard faced the ’80s oil bust. It was a time when the population and economy was declining, and oil leases were one of the things that helped keep some of the farmers going.
“An entire generation moved away because there was nothing here for them,” states Steen.
Such is not the case today. Now, the committee agrees that in the last five years, Arnegard’s population has at least doubled, if not more.
Many changes have taken place in the last 100 years. And the Arnegard Centennial Committee is eager to remember, honor, commemorate and celebrate them.
To do this, the city of Arnegard is inviting everyone who calls, or once called Arnegard their home, and everyone with the same love for the city as the people whose roots can be found there, to come to the city’s Centennial Celebration, July 5-7.
The committee has ordered buttons, hats, t-shirts and bags for the Arnegard Centennial and has collected information for a Centennial Book, similar to the Arnegard 75th Diamond Jubilee.
There will also be reprints of the Arnegard 75th Diamond Jubilee Book available for purchase to anyone who wants one, as well as the new Arnegard Centennial Book.
The Centennial Committee is anticipating using Nelson Park for the Centennial activities, as well as the Old Ball Diamond for children’s games.
Some of the Centennial events include Hamburgers in the Park and Breakfast in the Park by the Arnegard Lions Club. There will be class reunions, a wagon train, a parade, and a possible baseball game. There will also be time to check out ‘what used to be here,’ including the Old School Bed & Breakfast, as well as the Wilmington Church.
Additionally, the famous Falcon Brothers band from Williston will provide music for dances on Friday and Saturday evenings. They play country and ‘old-time’ music, as well as some modern hits.
The Arnegard Centennial Committee has also purchased two Arnegard Centennial Rifles. One will be auctioned off during the Arnegard Centennial Event, and one will be raffled off.
Raffle tickets can be purchased for $10 a ticket through the Arnegard Centennial Committee. For information on the Centennial Celebration, or purchasing memorabilia, Centennial-ware, or raffle tickets, contact Wanda Steen or Orville Mjelstad of the Committee, or e-mail