Parks Permit Recognizes Sodbuster Days

North Dakota’s Parks and Recreation Department revealed Monday that the 2013 annual vehicle permit for North Dakota state parks will recognize the 30th anniversary of the Fort Ransom State Park “Sodbuster Days” event.

Jerry Nordick, chairman of the association board, said Monday members learned of the honor at the association’s recent Christmas party.

Nordick said park manager John Kwapinski informed members Fort Ransom would be featured on the 2013 annual park permit, and Mark Zimmerman, director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, “showed us a picture” of the new pass.

Nordick said Zimmerman told him, “I just can’t believe you guys keep this going (Sodbuster Days) going at the magnitude it is.”

Nordick said having volunteer park supporters is helpful to the park.
“It takes 130 to 140 (volunteers) to put on the show,” and the association is able to attract that many people.

Nordick now lives in Minnesota about 90 miles from the park, “but my dad was one of the people who started the event.”

Nordick said 2013 events are planned for the second weekends of July and September.

Richard Birklid has a Nome mailing address, but lives near the park. The association board member said he expects “we are going to do something special this year” to mark the 30th anniversary.

Birklid said he has been involved with Sodbuster Days since before it moved to the park from the town of Fort Ransom.

Nordick estimates “if we paid everybody (volunteers) $10 per hour, it would cost $48,000 per year to put on Sodbuster Days. It’s a team effort. It’s not one person. As long as you keep it a team effort you can be successful.”

The event is held twice a year to pay tribute to the state’s pioneer ancestors and their lifestyle. It’s put on by the Fort Ransom Sodbusters Association in cooperation with Fort Ransom State Park and the state Parks and Recreation Department.

The annual permit can be purchased at the Parks and Recreation Department in Bismarck or at any state park for $25. Senior citizens and disabled military veterans qualify for a discount. The pass allows daily entrance to any state park until May 1, 2014.

Fort Ransom Sodbuster’s Association Inc. is a non-profit volunteer organization. According to the group’s website, “Our mission is to pay tribute to our pioneer ancestors and their lifestyle. We do that by preserving the ‘Turn of the Century Sunne Farm site’ located on the grounds of Fort Ransom State Park. The Sunne Demonstration Farm was homesteaded in 1884.The association also acquires, restores, preserves and displays original machines and other artifacts used by the pioneers. In addition, Sodbuster Days is held each summer for the purpose of demonstrating farming methods and other activities authentic to the early years of the twentieth century using these machines and artifacts.”