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Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Bridge Bash

For the past five years the Moorhead Business Association has welcomed area college students to town by hosting a party known as the “Bridge Bash” shortly after the area colleges resume classes. This past September’s was noted for some significant project changes.

A business advocacy nonprofit, the Moorhead Business Association works with businesses and nonprofits from Minnesota and North Dakota to develop the Bridge Bash event as a way to introduce students to what the local communities have to offer, provide connections for employment and service opportunities and familiarize them with social programs that are available in the community should they be needed.

“As a new resident, it is hard to know what fun things and social resources are available,” says Nick Lehr, the Moorhead Business Association’s Assistant Director. “We work with the university-college staff, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and many other organizations to familiarize students with what is accessible to them not just in Moorhead, but in Fargo and West Fargo. We want to provide more ways to get students engaged in what parks exist and have to offer, like kayaks and canoes, amazing bike trails and so much more. We introduce them to other fun things, like the Clay County Historical Society, the community theater or the many non-profits we have in our area where they can volunteer, like the River Keepers or Churches United. We work with small, medium and large businesses who really care about making the community a special place whether they are a cottage bakery or provide financial services and insurance. We don’t want to welcome the students to just one day, we want to continue the relationship and help them be part of our community.”

All the changes made to the event this year reflected its customary core purpose in helping connect students to the community.

“Traditionally the event has been held on a Thursday evening. This time we coordinated with the universities and hosted it on Saturday, September 18th, to make sure we didn’t compete with student union activities that they work really hard on, or large events like football games. We also wanted to give students a few weeks to get settled in before inviting them out,” says Lehr.

Bridge Bash 2021

Entitled the “Bridge Bash” as it has previously been hosted on the Main Avenue bridge, this year also saw a venue change to Viking Ship Park. The change also allowed the event to coordinate with Red River Market’s “Student Day” in downtown Fargo, as the FM Link bus ran participants from one event to the other with only a slight walk.

However, the most significant change to this year’s event was evident in the entertainment provided. While the event traditionally featured a large band for its duration, this year the Moorhead Business Association took things in a brand-new direction by hosting a variety show with the Fargo concert and event company, Wicked Good Time, acting as Master of Ceremonies and DJ, to highlight the continually changing performance artists and singer/songwriters local to the area.

With the help of a $1000 gift from the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, who named the Bridge Bash as one of their two August 2021 grantees, the Moorhead Business Association was also able to support and highlight other local artists. This year’s event included performance art, concrete carving, hula hooping and pole dance routines.

“We are always trying to showcase our area’s diversity. We want to invest in our local and student artists. We also want to build familiarity and connection,” Lehr states. “This was a good way to do that.”

Some of the local artists featured

Wicked Good Times (DJ as Master of Ceremonies):
wickedgoodtime.com

Kim Jore (Chalk art):
riverzen.com/kim-jore-artist.html

FM Aerial and Movement Arts, Yevette Reyes, Pole Dance:
fmaerial.com

Honeysuckle Hooping, Brittany Colbert:
honeysucklehooping.com

Singer/songwriter James Bergman:
artistjamesbergman.com/about/

Team SnoKraft of Mothership Workshop, Mike Nelson and Josh Zeis, (Live chainsaw carving):
mothershipworkshop.com/snokraft

**While the Bridge Bash is designed specifically for college students, don’t feel left out. Frostival Moorhead will Kick off on January 28th. A complete calendar of Frostival events is available at frostival.com/schedule/

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