Visits up this season at Frontier Village
“The sales have been incredible,” said Trefz, group secretary. “Everyone’s gone, but we’ve decided to stay open until the end of the month. …
“I guess it’s probably the best year we’ve had as a group,” she said.
Across the street is the Trading Post, operated by Roger Lende as a second site for his company, jbros n me. Lende sells souvenirs, antiques and collectibles.
“We were very happy with the turnout this year,” said Lende. “It was great. It was much better than last year. Much more positive.”
Visits have increased this year to Frontier Village, said Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism.
Frontier Village’s official tourist season ended on September 19. From the start of the year until August 30, 68,429 vehicles have passed through the gates. This represents an increase of 17.84% from 2019, an increase of 10,358 vehicles, Swedlund said. The numbers were compared to 2019, which was a more typical year, he said.
“We were a little nervous heading into summer looking at our numbers,” he said. But he said the visit this season was “excellent”.
Among vehicles passing through the doors, an average of 2.8 occupants per vehicle is estimated, Swedlund said. This would put the number of visitors at over 192,000.
“We saw a smaller population of 48 people in the United States that was much more diverse than what we would normally see,” he said of the visitors. He said most visitors came from five or six states east of North Dakota, although they come from all states in the United States.
Swedlund said one thing that stood out this season was the lack of international travelers. He said it’s typical to see 26 countries represented during the season. This year, on the other hand, there were only eight, he said.
“So what brought people here?” I think this has been the $ 2 million question for us all summer, ”Swedlund said.
He believes part of the increase is related to changes Jamestown Tourism has made to marketing campaigns in the state and a new website. He also believes this is due to the preferences of travelers these days.
“I think we’re going to continue to see experiences like this – outdoor experiences where people can control what they do and what they don’t,” Swedlund said. “I think we’re going to see this trend continue in the future.”
Swedlund noted that when people go to a concert or a museum, for example, they are inside for specific times. But Frontier Village offers a different experience.
“Here you are in control,” he said. “There is no fence. There is no time limit. There is no waiting time. You are here for how long and how you want to be here.
Swedlund said there are plans to open the general store next season. The building, which has been closed this season, was previously a place where people could purchase food and souvenirs of various types.
Two new parkettes will also open next year, Swedlund said, one linked to the homestead and the other to the railway. Both should offer engaging experiences, something key to the future of Frontier Village, he said.
“The value of this place is to tell a story, a very specific story related to this area,” Swedlund said. “To teach people in this area and not in this area what it meant to settle in North Dakota and this area. And there are some very interesting themes in there. And the first two started with homestead and the railroad.
He said that through educational games in the parkettes, children will be able to engage and explore the themes that keep Frontier Village relevant.
This relevance will not change with the addition of the proposed Bison World project, Swedlund said.
“The Bison World project will only benefit and improve this part of the (Frontier Village) experience,” Swedlund said. “I had to dispel a number of rumors this summer that people were worried about the destruction of buildings and the disappearance of Frontier Village. The context of this project (Bison World) will only help Frontier Village.
Part of the Bison World plan includes a streetcar ride that will bring people from Bison World to Frontier Village, he said.
“The intention is to bring people from the new tourist property to this property… and of course we have quite a few here, but can you imagine even more people,” Swedlund said. “And I think it’s just a great solution, a great opportunity for this place to continue to be relevant, but more importantly, there will be some really great opportunities for growth as this project goes live. So the key, of course, is this place is not going anywhere.
Swedlund said work is also continuing in the village. This year, a lot of plumbing and maintenance work was done. The village has acquired a fiberglass dairy cow, which will fit into other themes on agricultural products produced in the state.
“All of these things that we want people to understand in terms of our state’s identity,” he said.
Swedlund said that when you make changes there is a fear of losing something that was important, but Frontier Village is not going anywhere.
“We believe Frontier Village has always been and will continue to be relevant because it’s about telling the story of our past,” he said. “What will change is not this mission, but the way we do it. So, instead of being a museum-like setting, it will be more of an educational play space for families to come and engage. The elements will hopefully be more entertaining and I think the story will increase in value as a result. “