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Jamestown will be celebrating White Cloud's 16th birthday party called the Tatanka Festival. Events will kick off Wednesday and continue through the weekend. (John M. Steiner / Sun file photo)

City prepares to celebrate White Cloud's 16th birthday

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local Jamestown, 58401
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The extremely rare albino bison White Cloud will be honored this week in Jamestown through a celebration of her 16th birthday.

Though her actually birthday is not until July 10, Wednesday through Sunday will be filled with events such as parades, fundraisers, car shows and other entertainment to pay homage to one of the Buffalo City's best-known attractions.

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"This is a city-wide festival made possible by the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation in addition to so many local entities," said Felicia Sargeant, director of the National Buffalo Museum, where White Cloud and the bison herd can be seen by visitors.

Sargeant said more than 7,000 people come through Jamestown on average each year for the five days' worth of festivities, including 3,000 people for Saturday's birthday parade.

"It's not just locals. It's people from all over," she said. "We've got them coming from many different states and some planning their vacations around this event."

Sargeant said the event has continued to grow each year, with several organizers trying to bring in different forms of entertainment each year in addition to making almost all events free to the public.

"We start meeting in January to plan this, and it's really an effort of a lot of great people who help put this on during the course of the five days," she said.

Event highlights

Festivities start Wednesday with the seventh annual Kiddies Bike Parade at 10 a.m.

"It's gotten to be a fun thing for the kids in the community," said Charlie Kouraijian, Jamestown city councilman and co-founder of the parade. "We get about 75 to 80 kids out there on their bikes all decorated with the red, white and blue theme for the Fourth (of July). It's a joy for them just coming down the streets of Main (Avenue) without having to worry about traffic or anything like that."

Kouraijian said for many years in Jamestown there wasn't much exciting taking place on the Fourth of July, so the concept of a bike parade for children seemed like a good idea.

He is also helping spearhead a new first-year event as part of the Tatanka Festival called the "Where's White Cloud Scavenger Hunt," which is taking place Thursday through Saturday in the downtown sector of the city.

"The idea is to get people familiar with the downtown and show them there's some great businesses and good shopping right there," Kouraijian said. "Summer is short and this is just one more thing to keep people involved in the summer months and hopefully provide some entertainment."

Participants in the scavenger hunt will begin with an empty card that lists 14 businesses in downtown. From there, they must visit each business and find a miniature, replica-version of White Cloud that will be secretly placed in each store.

Once a participant has been checked off at each business, they must then submit their card to Babb's Coffee House or the Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill to be entered to win a prize.

Other notable events throughout the week include the Jamestown Fire Department's Third Annual Pancake Feed Fundraiser and a re-enactment of Buffalo Bill Cody by a Minot-based actor.

"It's been a great turnout and we have such a good time visiting with the people that stop in," said Jim Reuther, Jamestown fire chief, regarding the past two pancake feed fundraisers that have been hosted at the fire hall.

Reuther said that last year about 850 people were fed during the five-hour event.

"We're hoping for even more this year," he said. "We're always ready for 1,000."

The pancake feed fundraiser runs from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday and tickets are available from JFD firefighters or at the fire hall during regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekday hours or at the door.

A new addition to this year's lineup of events will take place Friday and Saturday at Frontier Village with Minot-based historian Christopher Floyd providing his portrayal of famous cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody.

"For the duration of my performance, I will become Cody the minute I step out there," said Floyd, who added that he has been portraying Buffalo Bill for about six years. "I talk about his life in a first-person type of setting and I want to enlighten people and them know his life isn't like the movie set shows -- it's even better."

Floyd said his favorite part of the performance is interacting with children who are enthusiastic about his portrayal of the cowboy.

"It's an educational process, but it's supposed to be fun too," he said. "Cody was a great guy and with cowboys as popular in America as they are now, I just really look forward to coming and sharing some lesser known information about Buffalo Bill."

Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at bwillhide@jamestownsun.com

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