While several inches of snow and freezing rain made roads a little treacherous, that didn't seem to stop many people from going to the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase in Minot Saturday.
Katie Pinke, marketing and information division director with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, which manages the Pride of Dakota program, said it started back in 1985 with 20 members and currently has more than 500 members across the state selling their North Dakota-made products.
"It's an opportunity for us to support small businesses across North Dakota and a lot of value-added agriculture companies, a lot of rural businesses," Pinke said. "This is just a way, I believe, to keep our state going strong. During this economic growth time in North Dakota, it's important that we're still supporting our small businesses from across the state."
Cheryl Guidinger, left, and her daughter-in-law Kara Guidinger, braved the roads from Bismarck to attend the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase at the State Fair Center in Minot Saturday. Kara Guidinger founded KLG Designs, a metal jewelry business, and is a self-taught metal artist who formerly worked for 10 years as an electrical engineer.
Due to the weather, some members did have to cancel their appearances at the showcase, which is being held at the North Dakota State Fair Center. However, Pinke said there were still 100 booths on hand Saturday, with around 90 members running them.
"We did have cancellations, but we're happy that those that arrived did so safely. And the Pride of Dakota members that are here are having a really good day," Pinke said. "We're really happy that Minot has come out in support."
Pinke said the crowds were surprisingly large Saturday considering the inclement weather. She attributed the great turnout to the hardiness of North Dakotans who don't bat an eye at a snowstorm in November.
"I think North Dakotans are pretty resilient, and they're used to snow in November. So we really are impressed, and the sales that our Pride of Dakota members are seeing are great," Pinke said. "So it's great to see that Minot is coming out and supporting Pride of Dakota."
Before the weather cancellations by members who couldn't make it, Pinke said growth for the Minot showcase was up around 15 percent compared to last year. She said the annual trend has been for growth of 15 to 20 percent for shows statewide. There will be a showcase in Fargo next weekend, and after that Bismarck will host one Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.
The Minot showcase wraps up today. Pinke said the weather situation in Minot is similar to what happened during the Grand Forks show last weekend, which might actually be a good sign.
"We got a little snow last weekend in Grand Forks at the show on Saturday, and then Sunday ended up being a really big day," Pinke said. "So we hope that people come out (today) and shop 11 a.m. to 4 p.m."
Jeff Peterson of Pointe of View Winery, which is near Burlington, said they have been attending Pride of Dakota showcases around the state for nine years. He said the crowds had been very good, which didn't surprise him in the least.
"In North Dakota, snow doesn't stop anybody, does it?" Peterson said with a laugh. "You just go slower."
Peterson said some of the more popular wines they were selling include the rhubarb and North Dakota grape.
He said they make it to all the showcases around the state and enjoy themselves tremendously at them.
Despite the weather, he said everyone he had spoken with Saturday had been in a really good mood, which in turn made his day much more enjoyable. He said talking with people and showing them what the winery is up to is his favorite part of the showcases, and in his mind a little snow doesn't detract from things at all.
"I guess you almost call it a little festive," Peterson said. "A little bit of snow."
Kara Guidinger of KLG Designs was up from the Bismarck area with her mother-in-law Cheryl Guidinger to show the crowds her custom-made metal jewelry. Kara Guidinger was an electrical engineer for 10 years before becoming a full-time mother of two girls. She soon realized she wanted a hobby to help occupy her time, and self-taught herself to be a metal artist.
"I start with sheets of metal - sterling, copper, brass and bronze - and I cut them down. I actually have 37 different hammers that I use that have different textures to them," Guidinger said. "I stamp the pieces and do a lot of custom pieces. I have letter stamps, so I do a lot with kids' names for moms and grandmas."
Guidinger said when she worked for Energizer she used to take scrap copper wire, strip the insulation and make rings. Sometimes the electricians would give her a hard time about that, but now she gets to have the last laugh because those scrap rings ended up leading her to a new hobby and career.
Among her various offerings, Guidinger said the custom stamp pieces are always very popular, and Saturday was no exception.
"It's a good, nice personalized gift that you just can't get everywhere," she said. "As well as I've come up with some different earrings that have been very popular, too."
She has been part of Pride of Dakota for the past six years and has attended showcases every year.
"It's always a good show (with) the people you get," Guidinger said. "People are looking for food, people are looking for gifts, so it's a nice place to be able to cover all those bases for people."
Guidinger was originally going to drive up with her mother-in-law from Bismarck Saturday morning, but decided to make the drive Friday night. She almost hit three deer, but thankfully made the trip unscathed and arrived safely at her parent's farm near Mohall where they would be staying during the weekend.
She said the turnout was wonderful Saturday, noting, like Peterson did, that snow doesn't stop many people in North Dakota.
Guidinger is just doing the Minot and Bismarck showcases this year because she doesn't have the time to make enough pieces for any other shows.
She said reconnecting with customers and other vendors is always the most enjoyable part of attending the showcases for her. She also loves showing off her new creations, and noted Facebook has been a good outlet for that.
While the weather might not have been great, that didn't seem to stop people from having a great time at the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase in Minot.
"It's actually been a very good day. Good turnouts and it's just fun to also visit with the other vendors," Guidinger said. "A lot of times we don't see them until our next holiday show. It's just once a year or a couple of times a year, so that's always fun."