McKenzie Co. Expo Center Hosts Wide Range Of Events Throughout 2023

Since its grand opening during the McKenzie County Fair in Watford City, the new McKenzie County Ag Expo Center has hosted a wide range of events, from the NDRA Finals in September to Western Wonderland in December. The facility boasts a 53,000 square foot livestock indoor arena, three exhibit halls between 4000 and 7000 square feet, an outdoor arena with grandstands, parking lot with RV spots, kitchen, bar, and concessions.

Director Chris Kubal, along with assistant director Kylee Roff, and event coordinators Riley Faller and Chelsea Peterson-Labaron, keep the Expo Center booked and running smoothly. On June 15, they hosted their grand opening and ribbon cutting after the first section of the Bulls and Broncs event of the fair. In its first year, the new venue attracted double the normal crowd to the McKenzie County Fair.

Annually they average 6000, but around 12,000 attend this past summer. The 4-H competitors were able to house and show all of their animals inside, in air conditioning, the entire week. This made their events far more enjoyable for the crowd, including elderly or individuals who heat would negatively affect. After the fair, they hosted the Bakken Classic Open Livestock Show and made further use of the setup for the fair.

The Saturday morning before the NDRA Finals Sept. 22-23, they hosted Flapjacks & Flannels, a free will benefit event for the McKenzie County Food Pantry where attendees could meet the contestants. They also hosted the Long X Western Art Show and Cowboy Poetry Gathering the same weekend, and had a mechanical bull, general store display, and dummy roping competition. Before the first bronc bucked on Saturday, the rodeo sold out.

October saw Ag in the Classroom's Petting Zoo event, which all McKenzie County students were invited to enjoy. Nearly 700 children attended, and were able to visit 12 booths that educated them on bees, sunflowers, meat production, and other local parts of the agricultural chain. Weekends in October the Expo transformed into Pumpkin Pickin' Palooza, complete with a hay bale maze, photo booth, pumpkin patch, kids crafts, cookie decorating, pumpkin painting, wagon rides, bouncy houses, and even laser tag! The Western Wonderland Dec. 2 was similar, but with Christmas trees as the backdrop for vendor booths, a Grinch matinee, photos with a cowboy Santa, and obstacle course as well.

An event close to the hearts of many of the Watford City area rodeo and ranch families, the Coy Hepper Memorial Invitational found itself at the Expo Nov. 25, and witnessed top PRCA cowboys and cowgirls, alongside High School and Junior High School rodeo standout athletes, compete together in bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding, and barrel racing. New Years Eve's event, Leather & Lace, showcased bull riding, women's bronc riding, bull fighting, and live music by "32 Below", and limited attendance, with only 1000 tickets available.

Kubal, Roff, Faller, and Peterson-Labaron are charging into 2024 with a full schedule for the Expo Center, despite having three weekends worth of Christmas parties to host yet. Cowgirls & Conservation will have their annual event Jan. 26, followed by a farm and ranch show Feb. 7-8. State 4-H Livestock Judging will descend on the center March 2, followed by its first gun show March 8-9. Stan Headings will bring his Extreme Bronc Riding March 23. April 6-7 the expo will host a recreational vendor show. They are booking for weddings, meetings, banquets, and livestock events year-round! With so many irons in the fire, they are looking to add to their team and hire a special assistant for maintenance and machinery-related tasks. Contact them through their website, for your event, or interest in the position.


Reader Comments(0)