Traveling makes us curious and engaged when we visit a new city, but it’s easy to slip right back into our old patterns at home. I’m guilty of this myself. So I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover West Fargo Cruise Night in the middle of an extremely hot bike ride last month.
On the third Thursday of each month, car and motorcycle enthusiasts take over Sheyenne Street in what will soon be the heart of downtown West Fargo. Seriously, they’re building a mixed-use city center and public gathering space as I type this. West Fargo started as a company town that sprung up around a meat packing plant. It was never supposed to be one of the fastest growing cities in North Dakota, but apparently it didn’t get the memo.
I rode up just hoping that West Fargo Cruise Night would occupy my toddler for a bit while we refilled our water bottles. (You kind of take it minute by minute with kids.) Instead, I found a rocking outdoor and community event that exceeded my (admittedly limited) expectations.
The cars are the main attraction, of course, and you’ll find plenty of roadsters, hot rods, muscle cars and rusty restoration projects to ogle if that’s your thing. West Fargo Cruise Night is a production of Toppers Car Club and its members and their friends turn out in droves.
Someone is inevitably going to read this post and wonder why the heck I only included one photo of a vehicle at a car-centered event. Well, that’s because the cars are really a bonus for me. I was primarily there for the people watching and the food. And West Fargo Cruise Night has plenty of both.
It really does feel like a small town community event where people can get to know their neighbors. We started talking to a high school guy at the bike racks and before we knew it, he was showing us around. Tanner had been there before and was great at pointing out what to see.
The food situation was a pleasant surprise. I have kind of an obsession with street food and West Fargo Cruise Night more options than I expected — and heartier fare, too. There were vendors and scout troops selling pizza, grilled beef sandwiches, drumsticks and several different kinds of hot dogs. I’m going to need to arrive hungrier next time so I can give you all a more comprehensive report.
It was roasting — 91 in the shade and I’d just ridden a couple miles pulling a bike cart to get us there — so when E wanted a shaved ice, I grabbed two spoons. It was the best thing I’d tasted all day.
The regulars sat in the shade on the south side of Sheyenne. The really clever ones even brought their own chairs. We joined them and settled in for a little people watching.
It seemed like half of the city was there. Babies in strollers, people walking their dogs, couples cruising up and down Sheyenne on motorcycles — everyone was out and about. Dance troops stretched out on the lawn in between routines as toddlers splashed under a cool mist from a garden hose and neighborhood boys popped wheelies on the sidewalk. Some of the neighbors pulled out their lawn chairs, plunked themselves down on their lawns, popped open a beer and waved to passerby. I even saw what looked like a spontaneous garage sale.
There are two West Fargo Cruise Nights left on the 2016 calendar — August 18 and September 15 — so if you’re around, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Parking gets tight (since the show cars line the street) so I recommend taking the bus (route 16) in or walking or biking there if you can.
West Fargo Cruise Night
3rd Thursday of the month, June – September
West Fargo, ND
5 p.m – 8 p.m.
What about you?
What do you love about West Fargo Cruise Night? What’s your favorite kind of outdoor event or festival? What’s your favorite way to spend a summer evening?
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