Not many seats were empty at the Granary for the Buffalo Trails Extravaganza event on Sunday afternoon. The event was a culmination of years of research and writing by Hettinger resident, and author Francie Berg.
By COLE BENZ
The event kicked off the start of the Buffalo Trails self-guided tour. The tour, honoring the nation’s official mammal, is comprised of 10 different historical buffalo sites that starts at the Dakota Buttes Museum in Hettinger.
This journey Berg has undertaken started with a book, a companion book. It’s a more in-depth reporting of the historical significance of the area as it relates to the buffalo and the last great buffalo hunts that took place in the Dakotas.
But two or three years into the project she was encouraged to turn the book into a tour. So that’s exactly what she did.
An initial press conference was held at the Heritage Center in Bismarck on Wednesday, June 7, the self-guided tour officially opened with the extravaganza at the Granary.
“It went really well,” Berg said of the press conference in Bismarck.
Speakers at the event in Hettinger included Mayor Richard Wyman, former U.S. Congressman Rick Berg (Francie Berg’s son) and Francie Berg herself. Allan McIntyre emcee’d the event.
“We’re here because a group of people got together to try to pull something together locally and work to solve the issue of the buffalo,” McIntyre said as he opened the ceremony.
Speakers followed McIntyre’s introduction and some video messages were played by congressional delegation that couldn’t make the event in person, like U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
A video teasing the tour, that’s currently available on multiple North Dakota tourism websites, was also played for the crowd. Orby Reyes, who works at the hospital, produced the video.
The event also featured multiple area artists that find their inspiration from the great plains.
Retired doctor Tom Jacobson had some artifacts from his personal collection on display for the crowd’s pleasure.
Entertainment for the event included fiddle music from Bart Damjanovich, Native American flautist Darren Thompson, and the Borderline Singers.
“I want to thank the many people who helped me in so many ways with this tour,” Francie Berg said as she opened up her speech.
This really became her passion. When she first moved to the area, she said people would tout the area as being the location as a few of the last buffalo hunts. But any more inquiries were left unanswered for Francie Berg. So she decided to do her own research. And from that berthed this endeavor.
“Now we have the stories, and a self guided tour so you can stand at the buffalo sites and experience our history first hand,” she said.
Of the 10 historic sites on the tour, five of them feature locations of the last great buffalo hunts.
“No other place in the world can all these buffalo events be brought together,” Francie Berg said.
As she looks to the future, there’s still more work to be done on this subject. She said that the she’ll pick up her work on the companion book where she left off a few years ago, and hopes to have that out this fall.
The book is available at the Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce and available online at HettingerND.com/BuffaloTrails. All proceeds from the book sales will be going to the Dakota Buttes Visitors Council.