The Old Fargo Fairgrounds: Then and Now

Before it was in West Fargo, the old Fargo Fairground was in North Fargo, on the site where University Village and Fargo North High School now reside. Barnett Field, the home of Fargo’s former minor league baseball team, the FM Twins, was on the site too. It’s something I wrote about in the book, Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found, but I just recently ran across an old map that shows the area in great detail circa the early to mid 1960s, and I was prompted to do this comparison.

See it larger. (Click, then give it a moment to load)

As a person who didn’t come to Fargo until after this place had been demolished sometime around 1967, a couple interesting things hit me right away.

  • 10th Street North was not always a through-street to 19th Avenue North. I never knew that.
  • The driveway through the south parking lot of Fargo North High School follows the path of a former through-street that once separated the fairgrounds and Barnett Field.
  • Washington Elementary School on the far-right has been thoroughly expanded over the years.

I recognize the slider image above is a little bit small, so if you’d like to see the view in a larger .gif animation, click the image below and, depending on the speed of your web connection, give it a moment to load.

What do you remember about the old Fargo Fairground? Please leave a comment.



7 Replies to “The Old Fargo Fairgrounds: Then and Now”

  1. We lived a block north of Barnett field. For several summers I was a bat boy for the team. The best part of that was when you got moved up the ladder enough to be the person who stayed on the roof of the stadium to retrieve the ball that ended up on the roof.

  2. My Father and I watched the tornado in 1957 from the roof of our house until it started moving our way. We could see cars and pieces of homes being blown around the water tower. It did not go far enough north to cause any damage in our neighborhood except for the large hail stones that fell. We kept several of them in our deep freezes for several years. Some were the size of tennis balls.

  3. The new Fargo North High School was the first building to have the laminate beam style dome roof. Within a winter or two of being built the roof collapsed. We had received an extremely heavy and wet spring snowstorm. Our sidewalk which we were in the process of shoveling clear had about 3 feet of new snow. The weight of that snow was to much for the new roof. We watched it collapse from our sidewalk. Fortunately it happened in the morning before the crowd arrived for a basketball game to be held later in the day. The gym was empty except for a custodian who was preparing the floor for the game. He heard the roof snap and ran for the door. The air pressure from the collapse blew him out through two sets of doors and into a snowbank outside. Basically uninjured he was able to walk away.

  4. I’ve recently been in a discussion as to exactly when the last Red River Valley Fair was held at the old fairgrounds. Here’s what I know with certainty: Fargo North High School was built in 1965. It was in its first full school-year of operation when the roof collapsed during the big blizzard of March 1966. The date of the collapse, as I recall, was Friday, March 4, 1966, but it may have been the next day, Saturday. One or the other for sure. Anyway, I just don’t see how the fairgrounds could have been still in use for the Red River Valley fair in 1966, and even in 1965 is questionable. Yet, I do recall certain “remnants” of the fairgrounds being present until about 1967 or ’68. But, seems to me the RRV Fair was held in West Fargo in 1966–of that I’m fairly certain. The year 1965 is what’s in question in my mind. Where was it held in 1965? How could it have been held in north Fargo if Fargo North High was nearing completion, if not already complete? (In those years the fair was held in either July or August, and the school year began in late August or early September.)

  5. My family lived a block and a half from the old fair grounds on 10th street and 15th Ave N. I remember my mom worked the concession stand that Holy Spirit church had at the grounds every year. We used to go to the fair grounds the day after it packed up and would look for loose change, nickels, dimes and if we were really lucky we would find a few quarters. Was always good for buying a big bag of penny candy at Harry’s market. Great memories. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  6. I grew up in a house on 12th St 1/2 a block south of 17th Ave N from 1975 (moved there when I was 2) to 1991. Yes my house is now a parking lot for the complex NDSU built on that block. Both my father and mother also grew up in Fargo and I was often told about the fairgrounds being there. I can tell you that Washington Elementary did not do there additions/renovations until after 1986 as that was the building shape the entire time I attended school. The door to the gym was in the NW corner of the open area that the school surrounds. Most to the recess games and such were played in that open area. Also many outdoor gym activities.

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