Grand Forks Herald
A new music festival is planned to debut in Grand Forks this fall, featuring concerts at multiple venues with local and regional bands.
The Big Forkin’ Festival is set for Oct. 3, said organizer Nick Jensen, 33, of Grand Forks.
Specific bands and most venues have not yet been decided, but the festival is planned for downtown.
If there is enough interest, the festival could become a three-day event, Oct. 1-3, but for now there are only official plans for Oct. 3, Jensen said.
The festival will feature local music from all genres—mostly bands from Grand Forks, Fargo or Winnipeg. The goal is to give local musicians more exposure, as well as to introduce people to music they probably haven’t heard before, Jensen said.
“This is looking at local talent,” he said. “Anyone that plays can find a spot to come and perform.”
Because part of the festival’s goal is to expose people to local music, the price will be relatively inexpensive—tentatively $15 for a festival wristband or $5 per concert, Jensen said.
With multiple concerts per night, each concert will feature three bands that will play one hour each, he said. Timing of the concerts will be staggered so festival-goers can walk between venues to multiple concerts.
Jensen also plans to have 50 percent of the venues open to all ages, so not every concert will be in a 21+ bar. Some of the concerts may be in spaces that aren’t normally used for music performance, such as offices, he said.
All plans are tentative, though, as Jensen is still working on organizing the festival. He has already partnered with the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, the Empire Arts Center and HB Sound and Light, he said.
Corey Mock, executive director of Young Professionals, said he’s confident the Big Forkin’ Festival will be “a great success.”
“Nick and others, they’ve done their homework,” Mock said. “We don’t have something like this in Grand Forks. To be able walk around and (see many concerts at different venues), so many people love the idea.”
Jensen also has approached other businesses and local entities, including UND, as he hopes some sort of transportation can be arranged between the campus and downtown for the festival.
Stacey Majkrzak, executive director of the Grand Forks Downtown Development Association, said the music festival is an idea worth exploring, but more details must be figured out before the DDA would become a partner on the event.
Because it’s aimed at local music, Jensen’s idea is different from a music festival proposed last summer by the Alerus Center and the Ralph Engelstad Arena management. That event, which had sought to feature nationally-known musical acts, ultimately did not happen.
The Big Forkin’ Festival is modeled after the Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth, Minn., which also features local music, Jensen said.
That annual Duluth festival, which started as a one-day event, now spans eight days with more than 30 venues. It has featured well-known regional artists, including Trampled by Turtles and Charlie Parr.
Jensen said he hopes the Big Forkin’ Festival will grow into an annual event as well.
Because the festival won’t be paying bands—musicians will just be playing for exposure—the cost of running the festival will be relatively low, which makes it feasible, Jensen said. Any profit made will go toward the next year’s festival, he said.
Though bands won’t be getting paid, they will be able to sell CDs or other merchandise.
In addition to musicians, Jensen hopes other artists will be involved in the festival as well.
“This is, to me, for the community,” Jensen said. “I really see Grand Forks as being on the edge of extraordinary. We need to keep doing cool things.”