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Posted 6/22/11 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Watford City is going to be bustling with activity this weekend as we welcome back classmates, relatives and friends for yet another Homefest celebration. Homefest had its beginnings after Watford City celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1989, and since that time, it has become an annual event.
And what a homecoming it is going to be for those people who are returning. Those who will be making their first trip back to Watford City in many years may not recognize the community and all of the changes that are presently occurring.
Obviously, one of the biggest changes that will greet people who haven’t been back to Watford City in the past five years will be the city’s new Main Street. The new Main Street with its wider sidewalks and decorative lighting definitely have been a good addition to our community. But then so has been the addition of the Long X Visitor Center, the Wild West Water Park, a new clubhouse at the Watford City Golf Course (now renamed the Fox Hills Golf & Country Club) and a new baseball field.
But what is also going to be very noticeable to those returning after a long absence is the dramatic increase in traffic in and around the community as a result of the expansion of the oil industry. Plus driving into their old hometown, people will no doubt be shocked to see all of the new oil wells dotting the landscape and surrounding the city, as well as the proliferation of new trucking firms, man camps, and other oilfield businesses that line U.S. Highway 85 and along the Highway 23 Bypass.
Watford City has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Some people returning will like the changes that they see. Others will reflect back on a slower, more calm time in Watford City and wonder what is happening to their old hometown.
While Watford City may have changed in the last year or so, Homefest has not. The secret to Homefest is really quite simple. Set aside a weekend for class reunions and family reunions, and then throw in just enough entertainment to fill in the free time and people will keep coming back. And that simple formula has worked year in and year out as hundreds of former Watford City area residents annually make their pilgrimage back home to renew friendships and to make new ones.
And this weekend’s lineup of special events is a perfect compliment to a wonderful weekend of visiting. There’s just enough going on to keep a person bouncing from one spot to the next, but never too much to overwhelm. Activities include a golf scramble and steak fry, street dances on Friday and Saturday evenings, the Homefest Run the West, the Missoula Children’s Theatre, an art exhibit and demonstrations at the Pioneer Museum, and lots of class and family reunions.
All in all, Homfest is going to be a grand weekend. So get ready Watford City. Company is coming and we’re treating everyone to a festive weekend.