General Store expected to reopen at Frontier Village in 2023
Other improvements are expected.
JAMESTOWN – Jamestown Tourism is looking ahead to 2023 with more improvements for the visitor experience at Frontier Village.
“Visitorship was good this year,” said Allison Limke, visitor experience manager, Jamestown Tourism, noting it was close to the all-time visitor record set in 2021.
The village had 61,378 vehicles come through the gates with an estimated 138,101 visitors. That is just 47 under the estimated visitors in 2021 at 138,058.
“It was a great year,” Limke said.
She said the village had visitors from all 50 states and more than 20 countries.
The newly completed parkette projects went over well with visitors, she said. The Eagles Train Parkette featured two hand-cranked pedal cars for children to ride around on a track.
“That was a huge success,” she said. “The kids just loved it and that includes locals.”
The second project, the Kiwanis Homesteader Parkette, offered a shack playhouse with a full kitchen, bed and other items along with other interactive items outside.
“People who used to come up here with their grandkids and would spend 30 minutes are now spending close to 2 hours here,” Limke said with the new experiences. “We’ve had multiple people stop in and thank us for adding more family-centered items just because they have a place to take their little kids and can spend an hour or two up here.”
Changes coming in 2023
Frontier Village’s largest building, the General Store, is expected to reopen next year, Limke said.
“With that project, we’ve added another interactive,” she said. “It will be like a hunt and find. We have … buffalo pins and medallions and different things about North Dakota embedded in the (refinished) floor. So it’s just kind of a fun, intricate piece that will be new to the building and just adds another layer of the experience.”
The General Store will offer coffee, sweet treats, souvenirs and Pride of Dakota products.
“We’ll be serving seven flavors of ice cream,” Limke said. “We’ll be serving root beer floats and we are also working with Dakota Dirt Coffee to do their brand but with our Frontier Village-themed coffees. So with our new mayor mascot, we’ll have a Mayor Marty’s Robust Roast and things like that.”
A bakery display will offer locally made kuchens and pies for sale.
The Dakota Store will not return to the village in 2023, so expect that some of the products sold there will be sold through the General Store for Frontier Village, Limke said. The Dakota Store's downtown location will remain open.
“The goal for that (general) store is to make it the revenue stream for the Frontier Village,” Limke said. “So down the line, we hope that we won’t have to go to (Jamestown) Tourism for grants as much or to the city for bigger dollar amounts. We hope that it can help self-sustain the property and take care of those different maintenance issues and help pay for some of the extra staffing or what is required to run the property.”
With the Depot being vacated by the Dakota Store, it has not yet been decided what will happen with the building but several options are being considered and she expects it will open in 2023, Limke said.
Also expected to return are the stagecoach rides, the Kirkpatrick Gallery and jbros n me in the Trading Post.
Mary’s House, however, will not reopen. The plan is to take down the building, which has sustained water damage and has some mold issues that make it more costly to repair, she said. The group that operated Mary’s House also operated only on weekends because it had fewer consignors. Limke said it’s important to have places open when the village is open, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, during the tourism season.
The house is expected to be torn down by spring or in the fall, she said.
“It’s a little bit of timing and weather,” Limke said.
The World’s Largest Buffalo had some repairs done this season and will get a new coat of paint next year.
Other projects considered
Limke said they are also considering the addition of horseshoe pits at the village and possibly having a place for a few food trucks to provide food for visitors, which is their No. 1 request, she said.
“We also have ideas down the road to open up a maze and possibly a miniature golf course,” she said. “That’s a big dream of ours up here. We think we’ve got the space for it, it’s just a matter of finding the dollars and making the time to create it and put it together.”
Frontier Village added a new logo and five characters to tell the stories of the history at the village. The characters are Marty Mayor Sinclair, Depot Agent Charlie Lyon, Homesteader Hilda Homer, Sheriff Archie Bloom and Stagecoach Driver Kitty Strong. Each character’s last name is a Stutsman County township, and each character tells stories of local or regional history for the experiences found in Frontier Village, she said.
“They all kind of have their own little voice and they tell the story of what people are experiencing,” she said.
Work is in progress to create experiences for the sheriff and stagecoach driver characters, she said.
Master plan expected
Hepper-Olson Architects, which created the plans for the General Store, is working on a plan for Frontier Village that is expected this month, Limke said.
“They’re working on a master plan of the Frontier Village to help us come up with some concepts and things for the future to make sure that we are planning for the future,” she said.
The addition of a full-time person to handle maintenance issues at the village has made a large difference, Limke said.
“There’s always going to be more to do with these older buildings and taking care of the property itself and this year we were able to, through a staffing grant and an agreement with the city, we were able to hire a person to take care of our property,” she said. “... We’ve gotten so many compliments that the Frontier Village has looked the best it’s looked in a long time and it’s because we’ve found this person who can just see something and know it needs to be fixed and go do it.”
She said the hope is to make that employee permanent.
Other projects that occurred during the season included removing the benches at the amphitheater because they were falling apart and planting grass there, she said.
Work is also planned to make repairs to the stagecoach, Limke added.