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Ray’s Grain Palace Festival


Expectations were high on July 12, 1912 when the Ray Pioneer announced the upcoming festivities to take place at the Ray Grain Palace Festival. The festival would feature a palace constructed entirely of the finest sheaves of grain, grasses, fruits and vegetables grown in the county. The palace was something never before attempted, but, reported the Pioneer, “the prospects now assure success…It will be a standing advertisement of the great productiveness of the rich soil in this vicinity and is destined to be the pride of the community.” Decorators and trimmers worked hard to construct the palace while boosters worked hard to plan the festival.

Finally, on this day in 1912, the first day of the much-awaited festival was held. The festival included a full schedule of not only exhibits of the finest crops in the county, but also included baseball games, foot races, dances, music, water sports, barbecues and suppers. The Ray Pioneer later reported that 3,000 people showed up to the festival the first day. “It has long been understood that Ray is the most progressive place of its size in the west and we have attracted the attention of this section of the world,” bragged the newspaper. “To go into details would take too much time and space, but let it suffice to say that nowhere can be found another city of our size that can successfully conduct such an undertaking as the last celebration.” One of the main attractions of the festival was the debut of the city’s “Great White Way,” or street lights. This provided the Pioneer with even more bragging rights: “Ray is the smallest city in the United states to have a Great White Way. [As] the fourth city in the state to have this plan of street illumination, so we are in the rank with the three largest cities in North Dakota.

”The second day of the festival, July 27, produced even greater results. The Pioneer conservatively estimated that 4-5,000 people came to the city to take part in the festivities. It was the largest crowd that had ever gathered in the city, reported the paper. Horse races, foot races and events at the lake dominated the second day, and a greased pole stunt provided entertainment after lunch. “[It] was the cause of a great deal of merriment for the watchers who witnessed the ludicrous attempts of the contestants to climb the slippery pole,” reported the Pioneer. Later that night, the boosters roasted a 1500 pound steer for festival goers. With bellies full, it was then time for music and dancing.

The festival had indeed been a success according to the Ray Pioneer, and one that was not likely to ever be matched again. “It was certainly an event which will be one of the greatest celebrations ever held in the town and will be an historical date for the future generations to look back upon with pride,” reported the Pioneer with great optimism. “It was probably the greatest celebration of any kind ever held in this section of the state.”

By Tessa Sandstrom


“Fist Annual Grain Palace Festival Success,” Ray Pioneer. August 2, 1912: 1.

“Ray’s Grain Palace Festival July 26 and 27,” Ray Pioneer. July 12, 1912: 1.