The Downtown Fargo Street Fair is back! North Dakota’s biggest outdoor festival returns for a Thursday-Saturday run in mid-July every year. And every year, you’ll find something new. The heart of historic downtown Fargo will be even busier than usual, as Broadway shuts down and thousands of people stroll through seven blocks of shopping, food, family activities and entertainment.
Exploring 280 vendor booths, snacking at one of 40+ street food stands and experiencing the event’s unique atmosphere are fantastic ways to spend a few hours or an entire day. But it can be a little overwhelming.
Here are ten tips to stay comfortable and maximize your time at the Downtown Street Fair, including a few from Twitter readers like you.
1. Street Food: Try an old favorite and something new
The food at The Downtown Street Fair is a major draw. There are snacks and drinks up and down Broadway, but the majority of the food options are in the food court at Broadway and 2nd Avenue North.
You’ll find carnival food like corndogs and cheesecurds, regional favorites like taco in a bag and fry bread tacos and Downtown Street Fair cult classics like gyros and crab fritters. When everything from soba noodles to quesadillas to barbecue is calling your name, it can be hard to know where to start.
If you don’t know what to order, try something you know you’ll love and sample something new. That way you won’t go hungry and your can experience the range of options provided. Fellow diners are usually pretty passionate about their favorites if you need ideas. Lunchtime is a major draw, so be prepared for lines if you arrive during peak lunch hours.
2. Explore your options
Avoid buyer’s remorse by scouting out your options before you buy. “I like to walk the whole street fair before purchasing so I don’t run out of money before seeing everything,” says @DoYouEvenPaleo.
If you’re just here for the atmosphere, then by all means, wander. But if you’re looking for something specific, be it a cold drink, a pair of earrings or a gift for your new baby nephew, then it pays to do a little research. If time or mobility are issues, you can scout out artist and vendor booths here, from the comfort of home.
3. Embrace alternative forms of transportation
The Downtown Street Fair is a people-centered, pedestrian event and it’s not set up to be particularly convenient for motorized vehicles. Broadway is closed to vehicle traffic and parts of downtown Fargo and much of Moorhead are under construction, so if ever there was a year to take alternative transportation, this is it.
Bus: Get dropped off right in the heart of the action for free — or very close to it. Link FM, Fargo-Moorhead’s free (and still largely unknown) circular bus, has extended hours and extra convenient downtown stops for Street Fair. There’s a very short wait between buses. You don’t have to stress about parking. And I’ll say it again — it’s free. Here’s the route.
The easiest place to park and hop on is at the Moorhead Center Mall at 510 Center Avenue in Moorhead. The bus leaves from the east side, near Everest Tikka House, the north side near the main entrance and the south side across from Scheels. Stops are marked with bright pink signs.
MAT Bus operates a variety of downtown routes, which are edited slightly to accommodate the streets closed to motorized traffic during the Street Fair. The buses usually run a discounted or half price day to promote ridership during this period. Routes and fare details are listed for you here.
Bike: Ride your own or grab one from Great Rides bike share. They’re available at multiple locations between NDSU and downtown. Just remember that you’ll need to walk your bike on the downtown sidewalks.
Parking Options: If you must drive, there are several lots that will have room. (They’re listed for you here.) Street parking near Island Park (1st Avenue South and 6th Street) is probably your best bet if you want to park for free. Just be prepared to walk a few blocks. This is a city, after all, and you’re attending a major festival.
You can buy water, juice, lemonade or fruit smoothies from vendors both at the food court (Broadway and 2nd Avenue North) and up and down Broadway. But it’s cheaper and better for the environment to bring your own. You can refill water bottles inside The Black Building (118 Broadway) or inside the Fargo Public Library (102 3rd Street North).
5. Plan for breaks (ideally somewhere with air conditioning and a bathroom)
The Downtown Fargo Street Fair is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s no need to be a hero and see everything in one go. You don’t even have to see everything, period. Give yourself permission to enjoy it and also permission to rest.
There are porta-potties on 6th Avenue North, 5th Avenue North and NP Avenue, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for a spacious stall, warm water and lots of soap. Restrooms in the restaurants and bars up and down Broadway are for customers only, so why not become a customer?
Order an iced coffee and watch the people walking by, split an appetizer at that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try, relax on a sidewalk patio or enjoy an adult beverage at a bar you love. @FeistyEats recommends a beer and popcorn at Rooters (107 Broadway). It’s a classic, old school Fargo option.
6. Be serious about sun protection
I cringe a little whenever I see someone slowly burning to a crisp before my eyes, so bring your hat, sunglasses and sunscreen and seek out shade frequently. You can pick up sunscreen at Swanson Health Products at 109 Broadway if you forgot yours at home. If that’s not enough, buy a cute, colorful parasol from O’Day Cache (317 Broadway) or snap up a hat or sunglasses from one of the vendors or downtown shops.
Cho. Be. Art and Design, available online and at The Green Room (11 8th Street South in Fargo)
7. Shop inside too
Of course you’ll want to shop at the vendor booths. After all, most of them are from out of town. But don’t neglect the shops up and down Broadway and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Downtown shops, restaurants and galleries offer special promotions during Street Fair and even if you’re downtown all the time, I promise you’ll discover something new. It’s literally my job to know what’s going on downtown and I always find a surprise or two.
8. See things from your child’s or your dog’s perspective
The atmosphere at the Downtown Fargo Street Fair is fantastic. But if you’re a small person (or a small animal) it probably just looks like a bunch of legs, things you can’t touch (or sniff) and places you can’t explore.
JackFromNoDak recommends not bringing very small dogs or children and I’m inclined to agree if your pet or mini me is easily overwhelmed. If you think they’ll enjoy the atmosphere, then make the event as easy and enjoyable for them as you possibly can. Everyone will be much happier.
Bring a sling, baby carrier or stroller for infants and toddlers and be prepared to carry a small dog if needed. Pack plenty of water, toys and treats for both humans and canines. And plan lots of breaks to rest and run wild. The U.S. Blank Plaza on Broadway and 2nd Avenue North offers shade and room to run and the heavily treed playgrounds, paths and gardens of nearby Island Park are a perfect place to start or end your day.
9. Buy it if you love it
“If you see something you love, get it,” says @FargoUGND “With 150,000 fellow fair-goers, it might not be there when you come back.”
I totally agree. If you’ve done your homework, done a lap and something is really speaking to you, just buy it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
10. Leave room in your day for surprises
An iron-clad itinerary sucks all the fun out of a vibrant event like Downtown Fargo Street Fair. And it doesn’t do much for your overall quality of life, either.
Leave yourself a little time to duck into a new shop, chat with a vendor or relax in the shade with an ice cold lemonade as people pass by. Actually stop and listen to a musician as he plays and really watch the artists at work. These are the little moments that make the Downtown Street Fair really come alive.
Downtown Fargo Street Fair
Held annually Thursday-Saturday during the second full week of July
What about you?
What’s your favorite part of The Downtown Street Fair? What tips and advice would you give people who are attending this year? What’s your favorite street food? What’s the best thing you’ve scored from a Street Fair vendor? What are you hoping to buy, see or do this year?
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