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Best-kept secret: Josh Duhamel watches UND-Minnesota hockey after shooting footage for North Dakota Tourism in Grand Forks

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Actor and North Dakota native Josh Duhamel, left, interacts with 1-year-old Eve Goldade of Grand Forks, second left, and her mother Kate, far right, as Samantha Klinkhammer of Moorhead, second right, looks on Saturday, Oct. 21, in downtown Grand Forks. (April Baumgarten / Forum News Service)2 / 2

GRAND FORKS — Josh Duhamel said the best-kept secret in the country is a place called North Dakota, and he wants to tell everyone about it.

"I'm tired of people saying, 'I've been to 49 of the states," the actor said Saturday, Oct, 21, to the laughter of a small dinner crowd at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. "I want them to see this state."

Duhamel, a North Dakota native from Minot, spent most of Saturday shooting photos and video for a North Dakota Tourism campaign promoting the state. The shoot included scenes from downtown Grand Forks near Town Square, tailgating at the Alerus Center ahead of a UND football game and the Ralph Engelstad Arena, where Duhamel watched the UND men's hockey team take on the Minnesota Gophers in a historic rivalry game.

In some shots, he is seen interacting with locals.

Duhamel is no stranger to promoting North Dakota. The state previously tapped him to shoot a number of commercials and promotional ads in an effort to attract more visitors to the state.

This time, he helped the tourism agency show off sights in Grand Forks, which was a great promotional opportunity for the city, said Julie Rygg, executive director for the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"He's in places that are unmistakably Grand Forks," she said. "They did such an amazing job at making sure you can really tell he is in Grand Forks."

North Dakota Tourism worked through Fahlgren Mortine, an Ohio-based advertising agency, in inviting national media journalists to Grand Forks,with hopes they would report on Duhamel's visit and the state's tourism campaign. Reporters were offered a tour of the city's downtown area, dinner with Duhamel and tickets to watch the UND-Minnesota hockey game with Duhamel.

Forum News Service also was invited with a similar package and requested an interview with Duhamel. Citing a tight schedule, North Dakota Tourism spokeswoman Kim Schmidt said there was only enough time for four private interviews designated for the national journalists.

The dinner at the Betty attracted local and state leaders, including UND President Mark Kennedy and Gov. Doug Burgum, who called Duhamel "the face of North Dakota."

Duhamel pointed to UND hockey, North Dakota State University's football program and the scenery the state has to offer, saying the opportunities that visitors can enjoy are endless.

"There is a peacefulness about it that I think is really, really hard to find these days," he said.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248