Booming tourism: Sites here report large increases in visitsTourism is way up in Jamestown this year, and as of June 25, visitors from every state have stopped at the local attractions. That’s a record, said Nina Sneider, Buffalo City Tourism Foundation executive director.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Tourism is way up in Jamestown this year, and as of June 25, visitors from every state have stopped at the local attractions.
That’s a record, said Nina Sneider, Buffalo City Tourism Foundation executive director.
“I think people are discovering that North Dakota is a state. We’re not a secret anymore,” Sneider said.
The numbers are looking pretty rosy for Fort Seward, which has already seen 6,042 visitors. Last year, the destination saw 12,419 people throughout the entire year.
“We’ve been doing very well this year. I’m quite pleased with our numbers,” said Jane Norman, an interpreter at Fort Seward.
Norman believes the veterans’ memorial is one of the biggest draws to Fort Seward, along with the park there.
“There’s a park up here with picnic tables and shelters, and it’s just … kind of quiet, peaceful place to take a break for a bit,” Norman said.
Some of the extra traffic also has to do with Fort Seward’s massive flag, which at 60 by 30 feet would stretch out over quite a bit of a standard basketball court.
Flying the flag can be a challenge in a state as windy as North Dakota. Should air currents 130 feet above the ground — at the top of the flag pole — hit 25 miles per hour or more, the flag isn’t flown, in order to prevent damage.
The museum, too, with its artifacts from historic Fort Seward and a diorama of what the fort looked like when it was in operation, help draw people to Fort Seward.
The World’s Largest Buffalo and Frontier Village continue to be a major tourism draw as well, with 12,247 cars stopping by between Jan. 1 and June 21.
That’s up 21 percent from the 2011 numbers for the same time period. Visitors are calculated at three per car by state tourism officials, meaning an official total of 36,741 visitors have stopped by Frontier Village and Dakota Thunder, the World’s Largest Buffalo.
Last year saw 30,312 visitors during the same time period.
“It’s been steady, and a lot of people seem to travel through there. We’re getting more groups of all ages that are coming up to enjoy the village,” said Tina Busche, manager of Frontier Village, who said she’s noticed many people picnicking at Frontier Village this year.
The Louis L’Amour writer’s shack, White Cloud and the World’s Largest Buffalo are big attractions, as is the Wild West shootout, Busche said.
Numbers at the National Buffalo Museum are up, too. In 2011, there were 6,738 visitors there by June 25, and this year, there have been 8,040.
“We’ve had a lot of different people from the East Coast, West … Canada, and out of the country, even, and it’s really exciting to have them here,” said Katie Morehouse, a clerk at the National Buffalo Museum. “We’ve been busy.”
Numbers at the Stutsman County Museum, too, are comparable to numbers from last year — 417 people.
Tourists often seem surprised at how much Jamestown has to offer, and they love how friendly people are here, too, Sneider said.
Many factors could be responsible for the high tourism numbers, Sneider indicated. Gas prices have been reasonable, and the Tourism Foundation has advertised nationally in Redbook, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Day, as well as Family Circle.
In addition, North Dakota’s oil boom has had a way of publicizing the whole state to other states.
The success in the Oil Patch has had an effect on tourism in Jamestown — the BCTF has sent out 288 information packets to Texas. Only Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois have had more packets sent to them.
The Texans who visit seem to be families of oil workers from out west, or simply people who are interested in relocating to North Dakota, Sneider said.
Even with the boom, the largest number of tourists still comes from North Dakota, followed by Minnesota. After that, it’s a tie between Washington, Utah, California and Idaho.
“We bring dollars to the community that otherwise wouldn’t be here,” Sneider said. “They’d go right by us on that interstate.”
During the spring, the tourism trend was toward retired people, but as soon as schools let out, the families started to arrive in droves.
“Families will spend hours up here, people who want to get out and get their pets out (of the car),” Sneider said.
They look for the white buffalo. They look for the World’s Largest Buffalo. Often, Sneider added, they also look for the bathrooms.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org