The North Dakota State Parade is held in conjunction with the North Dakota State Fair annually in July at Minot. The first one was held in 1981 with Governor Alan Olson as Grand Marshal. Several area residents including relator Ken Halley, Bryon “Barney” Lane, Gene Lee and Ed and Arlene Land, organized the event. Ken “Dizzy the Clown” Gillespie was procured to “Bring in the Clowns”.
The first parade was held on a Friday and the route was from the south Kmart, down Broadway to Burdick Expressway, then on to the fairgrounds. Later events were on Saturday morning of the first weekend of the Fair and now start on the intersection of Broadway and Burdick Expressway and through the fairgrounds. The largest parade had over 300 entries.
The parade became more formally organized and was incorporated as a non-profit with the state of North Dakota in 1988. Office positions were initiated earlier and Sylvia Lennick served as the first official chair from 1983 until 1993. Other chairs include Roxy Volk, Sharon Anderson Rud, Kathy Jensen, Linda Wienbar, Ken Stroklund, Loren Vannett and Jim Clifford. The 2022 chair is Twyla Miller.
The committee starts meeting in January and selects a Grand Marshal and a theme. Nominees do not need to be North Dakota natives, but must have strong ties with North Dakota. Honorees have included media celebrities, sports figures, veterans, politicians and even Miss America. Seated politicians are no longer nominated. The public is welcome to offer suggestions for future Grand Marshals.