Greater Moorhead Days brings city back together

Local colleges and schools, organizations and businesses will be taking part again in the Greater Moorhead Days Parade on Sept. 10, this year rerouted through downtown Moorhead. (File Photos/Tammy Finney.)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

After a year of virtual events and social distancing, Greater Moorhead Days comes roaring back Sept. 9-18. It kicks off with a family picnic in Gooseberry Park Sept. 9, and wraps up Sept. 18 with the 48th annual Red River Run and the MBA’s Bridge Bash.

In the meantime, the venerable community celebration will again hit all its traditional high notes – the big parade Sept. 10, a paddling excursion Sept. 12, Midco Kids Fest at Bluestem Sept. 14, and the Bridge Bash welcoming college students on Sept. 16.

“We have 10 events over 15 days,” says Trevor Magnuson, recreation specialist with the city parks and rec department. “There are events all over town – Gooseberry Park, Bluestem, Viking Ship Park, the Trails at Stonemill Park, and a parade right through downtown Moorhead.

“After the last year, people want more than ever to get out and get together. Thanks to our community partners, there’s plenty to get them going.”

It’s a far different outlook than last year, when restrictions on face-to-face gatherings turned the event into a virtual affair. While the iconic Medallion Hunt went on, the signature Greater Moorhead Days Parade was streamed on the internet, with area organizations, schools and businesses submitting video clips rather than marching past cheering crowds. The Red River Run and the Rotary Ride went do-it-by-yourself, too, to prevent the spread of the virus.

That makes the 2021 return in force even more of a reason to celebrate.

The Greater Moorhead Days tradition began in 1950, when local merchants banded together to ballyhoo all that set their city apart. Rooted in the boom years following World War II, the annual community festival had faded to only a shadow of its former self by the late 1960. Fueled by the city’s new spurt of growth and energy starting 20 years ago, it has clearly regained its vigor.

One change that can’t be missed is moving the Friday night parade from 20th Street South – blocked by construction – to a more central route along Center Avenue, beginning at 11th Street and ending at 4th Street in front of the Center Mall. “Center Avenue is already familiar to everyone from the Holiday Lights and St. Patrick’s Day parades,” Trevor notes. He suggests it’s likely to become permanent, barring construction projects that temporarily displace it.

The venerable Medallion Hunt will send residents on a search for three medals – gold, red and green – that bring substantial prizes. The first is $1,000 in gift cards from Hornbacher’s. Finding the red medallion means $500 in cash. The green one results in a $500 prize pack from several local merchants.

One clue will be broadcast at 8 a.m. on Big 98.7, Bob 95.1, and The Fox 107.9 radio stations every morning from Sept. 14 through Sept. 17. Each will be posted simultaneously on the Parks and Recreation Department’s website and in their office.

Three events are specially designed for children and families. The first, the kick-off picnic on Sept. 9, is a fund-raiser for the proposed Inclusive Playground. While that will be in Southside Regional Park, the picnic itself – food, inflatable games, face painting and more – will take place in Gooseberry. The Freez hosts an Ice Cream Storytime on Sept. 13, with the LARL Book Truck on hand for young readers. Finally, the big Midco Kids Fest is set for Sept. 14, bringing more games, booths, music and food to Bluestem Center for the Arts.

For more information, dates and times of events, go to and search “Greater Moorhead Days.” Information will also be posted on Facebook.

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