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Balta events see 'great turnout'
August 10, 2018

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Tiny Balta's population swelled August 4-5 as hundreds descended on the community to dance in the streets, dine on corn and barbecue, and take in a demolition derby.

Balta Bar and Grill kicked off the festivities the evening of Saturday, August 4 with its Fifth Annual Street Dance.

"There used to be (a street dance) every year," said the bar's owner, Stephanie Halvorson. "I know when I was growing up, there was. I don't know when it stopped, but for Balta's Centennial in 2012, there was one. Then, I took it over in 2014. That was my first year. "

Halvorson described the dance as "very well attended," estimating the crowd size at between 200 and 300. "The weather was nice, and the band, Uptown Live out of Fargo, was very good," she added.

Attendees paid $4 for drinks and a choice of food items. "We had smoked barbecue ribs, barbecue pulled pork sliders, and brats with sauerkraut. We had tacos in a bag as well," Halvorson said.

A few revelers chose to stay overnight, parking campers on one of Balta's few streets, or camp at Balta Dam.

The next day, crowds again gathered just outside of town for a demolition derby. Derby organizers Jay Loughman of Jay's Automotive Service in Rugby, and Larry Vetsch provided 22 small-engine cars for the event. "We call them 'Herbie Derby' cars, because they're the same size as Herbie from the Disney movie," Loughman said. Twelve full-sized cars also plowed through the course, and the Balta Wildlife Club provided concessions.

Loughman said the crowd of spectators "looked bigger than last year's, and we had 900 people then."

As the afternoon wound down, St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church, Rugby, provided corn on the cob and hot dogs for supper at the Dam.

Like the demolition derby and street dance, Little Flower's corn feed is an annual tradition, according to Father Tom Graner.

"It's an annual fundraiser for the parish, but it's more of a social event for the community," Graner said. "The corn feed has been coinciding with the demo derby for at least as long as I've been here at Little Flower, and that's 11 years."

Graner noted he coordinates plans with the demolition derby organizers to schedule both events on the first weekend of August.

Graner indicated about 700 tickets to the corn feed were sold, at $5 each. "We also had a raffle with a chance to win some Rugby Bucks as prizes," Graner noted.

Shawn Schaan won the top prize, 300 Rugby Bucks, while JoAnne Geisinger, David Kraft, and Dennis Jundt, all of Rugby, won prizes of 200, 100, and 50 Rugby Bucks, respectively.

Graner said the feed, which lasted from 4-7 p.m., had no dessert on its menu. "We had no bars, or anything like that. People could get more corn if they were still hungry." He smiled.

"We always have a little corn left to send off with the folks who are there at the end. Everyone stays until we announce the winners of the Rugby Bucks, then they go. It cleared out a little quickly this year, because we had a little rain shower that evening," Graner continued.

"All in all," Graner said, "It was a great success. The weather was perfect, and the sun was out at the right time. It was a nice afternoon."

Graner, Halvorson and Loughman said they plan to bring the fun back to Balta next year.

"Usually, we start organizing the street dance at the beginning of the year, looking for a band. We're always looking for suggestions as far as bands go," Halvorson said.

Halvorson expressed gratitude for all who attended and coordinated the festivities. "It was a great turnout, and it takes everyone to put it all together, so we're grateful for that," she said.

Loughman gave thanks to those who helped as well. "We want to thank Heart of America's EMTs and the Rugby Fire Department for volunteering their time for this. And we want to thank the Balta Wildlife Club for their help with giving us the area to have the derby. We couldn't do this without these people."

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