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Ford Day in Bismarck


On this date in 1923, a front page article in the Bismarck Tribune invited the “Ford Family” to compete for prizes in a special event the following Wednesday. Although Ford Day would include a special greeting from Henry Ford, the “Ford Family” referred to in the article meant Ford vehicle owners. The sponsor, Copelin Motor Company, would be giving a free touring car to one lucky registrant.

“With band music, novel stunts and beautifully decorated cars, [. . .] Ford Day in Bismarck is counted to be the most complete Ford Day entertainment held in the Northwest,” the article proclaimed. “The parade goes right up to the state capitol grounds for a picnic lunch provided by the Copelin Motor Company, right under the gaze of the statue of Sakakawea. If the bird woman who guided Lewis and Clark could look down next Wednesday she would see a strange sight – where she piloted men through the wilds of Dakota more than a half century ago she now would see the Ford family with their modern steel horses.”

There was no mention of facilities for men, but the paper reported women and children would be allowed to use a restroom at the Copelin Motor Company, and the Masonic Temple would bend their rules to allow women and children to use their restroom, as well.

More than a thousand people registered their vehicles for the parade, giving them a chance to win the free car. George Schmidt, who worked for Fisk Tire Company, was the lucky recipient.

Judges also chose winners in several distinct categories. Charles Snyder of Menoken won five gallons of motor oil for having the oldest Ford in the parade – a 1910 model. Hans Hansen of Linton won an oil gage for the best looking Ford “old style” (models built up until 1917). For best looking “new style” – models from 1918 through 1923 – E.E. Vesperman of Bismarck won a Sall oiling system.

John Risch of Bismarck received a windshield wiper for having the most passengers – 12 in all, and Ed Smith won a Williams foot feed for bringing his family of nine to town – the largest family in the parade. A.M. Brazorol received new seat covers for having the best decorated Ford coupe, and W.A. Smith, of Moffit, received an automatic windshield wiper for the best decorated sedan.

Twenty-six participating trucks were given a free fill-up of gas and oil for their return trip home. Of those bringing farm products, Alfred Ryberg won 5 gallons of oil for highest sales. L.H. Knowles of Wing also won 5 gallons of oil for traveling the longest distance.

Charles Snyder, owner of the 1910 model, was about to be given a prize for oldest driver at age 67 when Jerry Sweeny of McKenzie stepped up to say he was 72 – and thus won a luggage carrier. But Snyder did win another prize – a master timer – for having the most ramshackle Ford in the parade.

By Merry Helm

Source: The Bismarck Tribune. June 23 & 28, 1923.