Fargo Monthly May 2024

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This month, we got a backstage pass to all things live shows in the Fargo-Moorhead area—all from the promoters who bring them here. From the names most will recognize to the venues they fill, these promoters are constantly working behind the scenes to bring the best entertainment to our cities. They’re the experts on what the crowds will want, how they’ll want it, and even when. They know their community, but the extra layer—each promoter best knows their specific community. This in-depth knowledge of Fargo-Moorhead’s wide demographic is what allows such a diverse offering when it comes to the live acts in town; & it's the promoters’ passion that cultivates each sub community and the larger music scene as a whole.

You’ll notice there’s also a new voice in our pages this month. Jenny Sheets shares a wonderful reminiscence of her experience with live music throughout her years, and how

she has reconnected with that as she’s grown both herself and her family. That desire to be a part of something, to be wholly present in a moment surrounded by others who are experiencing the same thing, is an unmatched feeling. A few of the promoters touched on that feeling, and most of them would say helping to create those moments is one of the reasons they’re in the trade in the first place.

Live music has always held a special place in my heart, as many others I’m sure, and, I’m sure it’s because of that reason—the full body experience that you have in those moments. It’s human instinct to feel comfort when you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and when that happens with others who you share something important with (like music), it can feel even more satisfactory and, just, right.

It doesn’t have to be a live show, you can find that feeling in lots of places; in fact, you can go on chasing that feeling day after

day, but I have found some of the best memories paired with that feeling have been found in unsuspected places, crafted by my own hands, with my community.

Find your community, find something that’s bigger than you, and, as always,

Happy Reading!

18 MEET THE PROMOTERS! TABLE OF CONTENTS FARGO MONTHLY // MAY 2024 COVER STORY All your favorite things in one spot. FARGOMONTHLY.COM Extended content, events, drink specials, giveaways and more. info@spotlightmediafargo.com 701-478-7768 fargomonthly.com @fargomonthly /fargomonthly @fargomonthly FIND US ONLINE 28 38 18 24 28 36 38 42 Fargo Pinball Springs Into Action! Jenny Sheets: My Life in Concerts Meet the Maker: Jessica in Stitches What's the Vibe? with CampusFM 5



Mike Dragosavich

Brady Drake Brady@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Geneva Nodland, Grant Ayers

Kim Cowles

Ty Betts Josiah Kopp

Ashley Morken, Jenny Sheets

Nick Schommer

Paul Hoefer Paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Sam Winter Sam@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Al Anderson Al@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Tori Helland Tori@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Dave McSparron Dave@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Austin Cuka



Jenny Johnson

Jessica Mullen

Miranda Knudson

John Stuber

Monthly is published by Spotlight, LLC. Copyright 2024 Fargo Monthly
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distributed without written permission of Fargo Monthly and Spotlight, LLC is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on such information. Spotlight, LLC accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers. Spotlight, LLC 4609 33rd Ave S Suite #304 Fargo, ND 58104 or info@spotlightmediafargo.com ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)
Monthly Magazine is published 12 times a year and is free. Copies are available at more than 500 Fargo-Moorhead locations and digitally at fargomonthly.com. May 2024 Volume 14 / Issue 05
EDITORIAL Editorial Team Lead
Graphic Designer Creative Strategist
and fargomonthly.com.
Editors Art
Development Manager
Development Associate Director of Creative Strategies
Designer Web Developer
VP of Business Development
& Marketing Advisor Senior Business Development Representative
Development Representative
Relations Manager Marketing
Operations Assistant DISTRIBUTION Delivery
Kellen Feeney Megan
Ben Buchanan Austin Smith


Something cool you do at Spotlight

I’ve been a part of helping software companies grow nationally utilizing advanced tech and lead gen tools.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Herd and Horns!

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Practice putting on the interactive putting range at Suite Shots.

Something cool you do at Spotlight I love meeting people in our community. They trust me to tell their stories and that is special to me.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot BernBaum’s hands down.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

I love going for runs and bike rides by the river.

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Design magazines to celebrate awesome things in town, spreading positivity from the covers to the content.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot

Little Brother, the Korean chicken wings are AMAZING!

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Visit the MB Johnson Park in Moorhead.

Something cool you

Meet people, hear

learn about their

Favorite restaurant

Sirirath Thai House.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

area (not a cop out I

Something cool you do at Spotlight I get to design our monthly business magazines and specialty publications!

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot

Puerto Vallarta is the spot for delicious and affordable Mexican food.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

All the cool local arts, crafts, and music events.

Grant Ayers Editor

Jenny Johnson Director of Client

Something cool you

Interviewing WE Fest’s performers.

Geneva Nodland VP of Business

Something cool you do at Spotlight I get to interview local musicians and cover live music.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Beer & Fish Company.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Go vinyl record hunting at Vinyl Giant Records in downtown Fargo.

Josiah Kopp Creative Strategist

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Work closely with interior designers, photographing the most beautiful spaces in the area.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Black Coffee & Waffle Bar.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Photographing the races at the Red River Valley Speedway.

Favorite restaurant

Cheeseburgers at Mick’s Office, I’ve been going there since college.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Drinking margaritas on a hot sunny day at a vibey patio.

Something cool you do at Spotlight I’ve been asked for three consecutive years to speak at the Niche Media Conference.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Cracked Pepper

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Watching my kids play sports and playing bingo at Wild Bill’s!

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Work on things that support the local business community.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Maxwells in West Fargo.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Take my daughter to Kingpinz so she can go crazy while I relax.

Mike Dragosavich Publisher and CEO Brady Drake Editorial Team Lead Sam Winter Sales Manager Kim Cowles Art Director Ty Betts Editorial Graphic Designer

Al Anderson Business Development

Something cool you do at Spotlight I get to work with great companies and meet new people.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Mezzaluna.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town I love to golf.

Austin Cuka Business Development

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Using the latest advertising technology to help clients get the highest ROI possible.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot The Toasted Frog.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Be on a patio in the summer with friends.

Tori Helland Marketing Strategist

Something cool you do at Spotlight

My favorite part is the relationships that I have grown in many different industries.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Plaza Azteca or Brewhalla!

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

Going out for dinner and grabbing a drink! I also love playing pickleball all year round.

Nick Schommer Business Development Manager

Something cool you do at Spotlight Create new website experiences that directly lead to a better presence and more results.

Jessica Mullen Marketing Coordinator

Something cool you do at Spotlight Project manage our partner content, print ads, and specialty magazines!

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot El Agave Mexican Restaurant.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town I am a big foodie; I love cooking and trying new recipes!

Dave McSparron Senior Business Development Representative

Something cool you do at Spotlight I get to tell boring stories about farming to everybody at Spotlight!

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Thai Cuisine.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

My summer hobby is golf. My winter hobby is going somewhere warm to golf.

Miranda Knudson Operations Assistant

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Manage our billing and finances and help our team with anything they need.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot

Mango’s Mexican Restaurant.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town I like to spend my time out at the barn riding and competing with my horse Yuma.

Kellen Feeney Business Development

Something cool you do at Spotlight Use digital marketing and other channels to create campaigns and generate results.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot SouthTown PourHouse.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town Golf with the boys.

Megan Suedbeck Director of Creative Strategies

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Design websites and bring our client’s visions to life.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot

Village Inn for breakfast!

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

I enjoy yoga, crocheting, and walking my dog at Lindenwood Park.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot I live in Arizona now, but Mezzaluna when I’m in town!

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town

On the golf course or at the lakes with friends.

Austin Smith Web Developer

Something cool you do at Spotlight

Explore the back ends of websites, understand their functionality, and utilize that insight to manipulate them as desired.

Ben Buchanan Graphic Designer

Something cool you do at Spotlight Work on a smorgasbord of different projects.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot Himalayan Yak.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town Snorkeling in the Red River.

Favorite restaurant Sickies Garage, the burgers there are fantastic.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town Play video games and Dungeons and Dragons.

John Stuber

Something cool you do at Spotlight I deliver over 20,000 magazines a month and get to know all of the businesses in town.

Favorite restaurant or hidden spot

Marge’s Bar downtown.

Hobby or favorite thing to do in town I like to play pinball, some of the places I play are Billard’s, Drekker, and Pixeled.


This is your backstage pass to some of the FM area's most visited venues and most anticipated shows coming up this

6/6...5/29...Tunic w/ Benefactor, ghost_texture and LOUM 6/19... Gorgatron & Maul Double Tour





The Lights

6/14... Jon Pardi

6/15... Soul Asylum and Gear Daddies


8/30... Ice


6/7... Dusty Slay 7/5... Pete Davidson Prehab Tour 7/7... The Wallflowers 7/8... Trey Kennedy 8/9... Lorrie Morgan 9/22... Daniell O'Donnell 10/13... Brad Williams FargoTheatre
Joan Jett and The
REO Speedwagon
Brothers Osbourne
Teddy Swims
Revival Nights
10/13... Zach Williams


June 6

Tunic w/ Benefactor, ghost_ texture and LOUM

July 11

Jade Presents: Etran de L’Aïr & Rosali

June 21 Fargo TornadoFest: Tailspin, Others, & Ravencrow

August 5

mc chris & Crunk Witch

Meet Josie and Ryan Hoffart, the promoters behind the beats at The Aquarium, one of Fargo's hotspots for live music since '06.

Nestled in downtown Fargo above Dempsey's, this venue is a launchpad for both local talents and touring bands.

Ryan's deep-rooted passion for music, which originated long before he used to play in his own band and book his own gigs, drives him to be part of the curating process of elevating local and emerging talent. His commitment to nurturing underground artists is as much of a job as it is a passion, his reward being the sight of these artists' career progression. Meanwhile, Josie leverages her role to bolster local musical ventures, focusing on collaboration

and support within the arts community. Her efforts are key in introducing a kaleidoscope of sounds to the area, making her a perfect liaison between the array of musical talent in the region and the diverse sounds brought to the Aquarium.

Handling everything from social media to event planning, Ryan and Josie wear many hats, yet their enthusiasm for their work never wanes. Their collaborative approach is crucial given the small size of the Aquarium's team. For Ryan and Josie, to have a great show is a must, but fostering a sense of unity and support among attendees— be it the music enjoyers or the music makers—is the ultimate win.


Ryan Hoffart

Ryan has been an active part of the music scene long before he joined the Aquarium. With a background spanning nearly two decades in the industry, Ryan's passion for concerts began in the early aughts when he started booking his own band. Known for his dedication to fostering a supportive community for underground artists, Ryan helps to create a space where local talent can grow and connect!

Josie Gereszek

Josie's journey into the world of music promotion is intertwined with her own musical background, and her approach is influenced by her enthusiasm for community building and her commitment to supporting musical projects. Leveraging her experience and connections to promote a wide range of genres, Josie's efforts in cultivating the local music scene ensure that the Aquarium remains a cornerstone for new and innovative music in Fargo!

best mems

Being in the promoter industry, Ryan and Josie have witnessed a lot of incredible moments, but some stick out more than others.

Phoebe Bridgers

"We had Phoebe Bridgers [here] just like, I swear, seconds before she just absolutely blew up," Ryan said. Hosting soon-to-be artists right before they gain national fame is huge, and happens more than you think. The duo remembers when the now international star, Pheobe Bridgers, booked a show at the Aquarium, bringing out about 80 people. The following month, she shot to fame.

Battle of the Hamms

Come out on May 24 at 6:30 p.m.!

A tradition, the Battle of the Hamms

brings together a diverse group to the Aquarium's space. Think battle of the bands, but 300 cans of Hamm's beer as the prize—just friends coming together and having a good time.

What to know

The Aquarium is equally unique as it is unconventional. The narrow stairwell leading up to the venue is like falling in reverse through the rabbit hole, as the sounds of the downstairs bar faze out and are replaced by whoever is gracing the stage. In the thick of it, the DIY music community will bask in the low ceiling and tight walls. The energy of a full house (which is easy to come by considering the space's capacity is 260 (shoulder to shoulder) is palpable. If you haven't been yet, here's what you should know.

• The entrance is at Dempsey's front doors, off of Broadway.

• The venue's building does not have an elevator—but, Ryan noted that if you're willing, the staff will get you up to see the artists you love.

• There are both ticketed & free events, for both 21 plus & all-ages held at the Aquarium.

• The venue is pretty much standing room only.

• There is a bar upstairs.

• There are also bathrooms upstairs!

Surprise Sellout

Balancing well-known and up-andcoming acts is an important part of the job, and there's something serendipitous about the moment they realize they chose a crowd-pleaser. Unexpectedly large turnouts for bands are moments they'll never forget, like when Soccer Mommy visited in 2019 and recently, the local band Ghouls.

"It's always a pleasant surprise when you discover some community within Fargo-Moorhead that you just weren't really tapped into. And I think that was certainly the Ghouls situation, they're absolutely killing it and bringing out those college kids, that's so important for sustaining the music community overall," Josie said.

Get tickets, see the schedule, and more here!

Meet the Promoter

Ticketed concerts at the Lights are sold through Ticketmaster— the official and sole ticket distributor of EPIC Events promoted concerts on MIDCO Stage at Essentia Health Plaza at The Lights. Get your ticket online at the link below, or you can grab tickets at the door (unless the show is sold out)!


Fargo PinballSpringsinto

of the beautiful art she has adorned Fargo with. Yet the Brooks have another business venture that you may not have known about—Fargo Pinball.

Fargo Pinball was started in 2015 by Bill and Emily Brooks along with Bill's brother, Jim Brooks, as a private club which they initially sold memberships for. However, the business model changed during the pandemic, and rather than a private club, Fargo Pinball was brought to the masses, and machines began popping up in local businesses.


connections not only nationally but globally as well," Bill said.

Enjoying the game of pinball is one thing—turning it into a viable business is another. The magic ingredients for turning Fargo Pinball into a profitable business included connecting with influential names in the industry, including a connection with Chicago Expo Founder and Chairman Rob Berk in 2015, and tapping into the pinball community.

In that process, the Brooks were shocked to discover just how big that community truly is. That is why, eventually, their little side business allowed them to make connections worldwide. "One of the first people we connected with was Rob Berk from the Pinball Expo in Chicago, the birthplace of pinball," Emily said. This encounter happened coincidentally when Berg, also a fireworks enthusiast, was in West Fargo for a pyrotechnics event. He reached out to Bill for a tour of Fargo Pinball, sparking a lasting connection.

The Brooks' relationship with Berk led to an invitation to speak at the 2016 Pinball Expo in Chicago. "We've been going to the pinball expos in Chicago ever since, making

One such connection was with John Buscaglia of Stern Pinball, who approached the Brooks after their presentation, excited about the growing interest of pinball in the state. "They approached us and we worked out a deal with them—they wanted to be in North Dakota," Bill said.

Partnering with Stern proved to be a monumental step for the Brooks, prompting them to be authorized dealers and opening the business to a whole new world of national customer reach and a fabulous support department that helped expand their technical knowledge and expertise. This marked the beginning of their status as local and regional experts in the pinball world, which opened other doors for connections and partnerships.

"We were able to make connections with pinball artists, engineers, and technical experts. These connections gave us a better understanding of all the amazing things that go into developing a pinball machine," the Brooks said. "Pinball Expo in particular has allowed us to connect with numerous pinball enthusiasts across the globe. We have been fortunate to visit our new friends in Australia and The Netherlands."

continued> 29

Today, Fargo Pinball is officially authorized for three different manufacturers and enthusiasts can find Fargo Pinball machines in Drekker, Brewhalla, Fargo Billiards, Old Broadway, and at Dempsey's new addition room.

However, the gameplay reach doesn't top out at FargoMoorhead's city limits. As a licensed distributor, Fargo Pinball sells machines nationwide, with clientele reaching all the way from Massachusetts to California.

In addition to being authorized pinball machine distributors, the Brooks enjoy connecting with people from all over the world at trade shows and have been featured speakers several times on panel discussions at Pinball Expo in Chicago and various podcasts.


Although pinball machines can be found anywhere, they are commonly found in bars—and because individuals under 21 cannot legally enter bars in North Dakota, the Brooks wanted to bring Fargo Pinball to spaces where people of all ages can enjoy pinball—like Brewhalla and Fargo Billiards.

The Brooks are playing into the current uptrend of arcade and oldschool games making a comeback in our culture and they are excited to be a part of the growing interest pinball is taking on in Fargo.

Not to forget their core demographic, The Brooks also brought Fargo Pinball to some of Fargo's best bars and breweries, including Drekker, Old Broadway, and Dempsey's.

Additionally, the Brooks are helping put Fargo on the map in a new way. "We have really amazing players in our area," Emily said. "One thing that Bill really wanted to focus on is to bring the competition to [Fargo], nationally. And so he worked with the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association) to

make it possible to have a pinball competition each year where the state winner would go on to compete nationally."

All competition and business aside, for Bill, the enjoyment of pinball is as simple as spending his lunch hours fixing pinball machines. He took us under the hood to show what repairs look like on any given day—it's incredible to see all of the wiring and gears that go into bringing the game of pinball to life. "It's been kind of a fun routine because it allows me to clear my head and shift my focus to something completely different than my day job," he said.

Although the Brooks love seeing enthusiasts playing pinball, continual upkeep is required to keep the machines running smoothly—and with a carbon steel ball flying around during gameplay, there's always sure to be some mayhem on the playing field.

continued> 32 | MAY 2024 | FARGOMONTHLY.COM

One recent innovation in the pinball world has been interconnectivity, which allows users to play a pinball machine in Fargo and see how their particular score matches up to someone playing the same pinball machine anywhere else in the world. This ability to connect with other avid pinball enthusiasts helps showcase "destination machines," which are highly sought-after machines due to their specific gameplay offerings or their rarity. It is common for people within the pinball community to travel across the country just to play on specific pinball machines.

"The part of pinball that I love the most is the connection and the community building," Emily said. "Even when we're repairing machines on site, I'm engaging with

people who are playing some of the machines and learning their stories."

For Bill, it's the way pinball creates unexpected connections in the community. "We've seen those amazing connections happen; people who run in completely different circles have formed bonds over playing pinball—it's the game that everyone knew from growing up," he said. "They may have completely different views on everything [in life], but they love playing pinball with each other, and that's what we love fostering and that's what we've strived to do."

Whether you've been an avid player for years or never played a single game, pinball is the perfect date night activity for a night out—and it's budget-friendly! Each machine

is only $1 to play, and Fargo Pinball offers an impressive lineup of machines catered to every interest. Check them out at Drekker, Brewhalla, Fargo Billiards, Old Broadway, and now at Dempsey's new addition room!


JennyMeetSheets! My Life in Concerts

Jenny Sheets has split her life between the Fargo-Moorhead area and Montana, which means she knows I-94 far too well and exactly how far she can stretch the gas tank until running out (the off-ramp to Beach, ND, to be exact.) She currently lives in Moorhead, MN with her husband and three-year-old son, Henry Danger. She's trying to adopt a puppy but needs to convince her husband that it's as good of an idea as having a baby during the pandemic. Each month Jenny will bring her perspective to Fargo Monthly on a meandering topic of her choosing: childhood memories, Fargo favorites, a nagging gripe, illogical opinions, something from a dream, new obsessions, or all of the above at the same time. If you want to praise her writing and quick wit, you can find her in-person trail running by the river, biking, stuffing her face at Bernbaums, or sipping beers on a patio.

Jenny talks (and reminisces on) the impact of live music.

I fell in love with live music at my first concert when I was ten years old. A family in our neighborhood invited me to the Amy Grant show at our city's largest arena. My parents had a couple of Amy Grant albums and I put them in our family CD player as often as I could, interchanging with Garth Brooks and Pure Moods (it was the ‘90s after all). I couldn’t believe my luck that I would be going to a real live concert. I was a perfectly awkward ten-yearold in between childhood and adolescence, with an in-between haircut. I was shy but tried to act cool, and a concert was the epitome of cool.

My heart pounded for weeks as I thought about the songs she might play and what I would wear. The thought of hearing, “...paved paradise and put up a parking lot...” carried me through fifth-grade lessons and household chores until the night arrived. If I remember correctly, I wore long shorts and an oversized T-shirt— classic.

Nothing in my childhood dreams could have prepared me for a live concert: dimming of the lights, first notes of music, the roar of the crowd, screaming and singing with strangers as one. This was long before cell phones and pocket cameras but I captured the memory of that night in a hand-drawn thank you note to my neighbors with Amy Grant singing on stage holding a bag of Lay’s potato chips. (My neighbor did something with Lay’s. My ten-year-old comprehension recalls that he either owned the company or filled vending machines). That one night, all the anticipation leading up to it, and all the adrenaline after it, left a permanent mark on me. I needed more.

The problem with being ten is that you’re ten. No one would fund my newfound passion for hopping on a concert circuit and I couldn’t get a job to fund it myself. I was old enough to understand the concept of money. Every month the coveted Delia’s catalog arrived and I spent weeks circling everything I wanted to buy with my nonexistent credit card. So yeah, I was no fool to the workings of capitalism. When I turned eleven, a respectable age to hit the job market, I started going doorto-door asking if anyone wanted to hire me. I babysat, raked leaves, picked rocks out of gardens, and even worked retail


(not legal). I was practically swimming in cash.

My fundraising coincided perfectly with our generation’s version of Beatlemania: the rise of NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. I doubt there could have been a more fitting time for two of the biggest heart-throbbing bands to enter my life. Hormones were in full swing and the Titanic soundtrack was No. 1. Even twenty-five years later, just hearing the first two notes of “My Heart Will Go On” almost sends me into early menopause—in a good way.

Both bands embarked on global tours that included North Dakota. I remember feeling as if I would literally die if I didn’t go. Now at my age, that level of extreme delirium would land me in the hospital, but ah, adolescent bliss. Tickets weren’t cheap. I must have pooled all of my piggy banks together and taken out an advance on my chore money, but I remember holding onto those paper tickets like gold. For reasons I can’t comprehend, especially since I’m a parent now myself, my dad drove my two best friends and me to both concerts, an hour and a half away—on two separate occasions—so we could scream and profess our love during every bridge of every song. That year my parents also gave me a portable CD player for my birthday. Thanks to mail-order CD scams I discovered bands outside my boy band scope: No Doubt, Green Day, TLC. I fell in love with the Broadway Rent soundtrack alongside the Beastie Boys. Just as erratic as my middle school emotions, from punk to R&B, and Broadway—music was woven into my identity.

I carried my Walkman into high school, putting the headphones over my head in between classes. Pop punk and ska of the early 2000s was in full swing and I finally felt heard when I listened to Blink 182, Fall Out Boy, or Reel Big Fish. In hallways, bedrooms, and cars, my friends and I would sing as loud as we could, flailing our arms and legs, and pumping our fists to the music gods. Pop punk and ska were happy genres that bordered on rebellion but didn’t cross the line—perfect for angsty teenagers unsure of where they fit.

Pretty soon all my babysitting money went to every ska and punk show I could find. I wasn’t old enough to get into the bar shows with the big local bands, but that didn’t slow me down. I started to amass a group of friends who would clue us into high school punk bands playing at the local bowling alley and coffee shops. Promotion traveled via photo-copied posters tacked up in school bathrooms, or yelled in the hallway between classes, “Brookdale at the All Star Bowl tonight! Five bucks!”

I spent a long time getting ready for concerts—which was half the fun— determining which outfit would allow me to dance the hardest and fit in with the, “I don’t care about fitting in” crowd. Oftentimes I landed on rippedup jeans with black or hot pink tights underneath, paired with a couple of tank tops, a ton of bracelets, and poorly dyed hair in a high pony. In this outfit, I felt more like myself than anywhere else.

Like many young people, it took me a long time to settle into my skin and find a community. It’s not like I was immune to the threats of adolescence. But for a few hours on the weekend, while kicking my legs to overly distorted punk or ska, worries took a backseat to my love for live music. We wore ripped, baggy clothes together. We sweated and screamed together. We breaked under the streetlight together. Despite what was going on at school or at home, we exhaled and made space for joy. Together.

It’s been over twenty years since those nights at the bowling alley, and I don’t listen to as much punk or ska anymore. Truthfully, I miss it. In my twenties, I demoted genres and switched to club and party music, and then in my thirties, I quieted down to Americana and folk. Now with a three-year-old, I listen to

Street and handclapping songs on repeat, not by choice. But a few months ago a friend gave us a tote full of records he found at his parents’ house. Our son pulled out a green record with cartoon figures on the front: The Kinks, “Schoolboys in Disgrace,” a 1975 rock album. For months, per my son’s request, we listened to it on repeat. After seeing our son light up to music, we started to reach back into our memories of CD cases and introduced him to some of our old favorites like The Black Crowes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even a little Fall Out Boy and Mighty Mighty Bosstones. We danced in the living room as a family, kicking our legs, waving our arms, doing somersaults on the carpet, not caring what anybody thought—just exhaling and allowing space for joy. Together.



Jessica in Stitches

Just like you’ll find out below, we had an instant connection with Jessica in Stitches thanks to her crazy creative, intricate, and realistic pet embroidery! It’s so fun to learn about the background of how a maker began to work in their medium and what inspired it. Read on to hear about Jessica’s creative world of embroidery being her “pandemic sourdough starter” and how long it takes to create these custom pet pieces!

Tell us a bit about yourself. Hello there! I’m Jessica, the artist behind the threads for Jessica in Stitches. I’m a local artist based in Fargo, ND. I am so lucky that I have two of the best jobs! I am a full-time ultrasound tech and an embroidery artist. I’m super passionate about both and will gladly talk your ear off about both of them. What I love about ultrasound is that I use my brain every day—critical thinking is a huge part of my job. And I know that I make an impact on my patients' care. I’m also a fan of anime, board games, and spooky things. And I have a cat and a dog who are my very lazy but supportive assistants.

Describe what type of products you make under Jessica in Stitches. My business is all about creating embroideries that mean something to me and my clients. The types of embroideries I create include thread-painted pet portraits, crossstitch families, house portraits, embroidered Polaroid picture frames, and quotes/sayings with plenty of flowers and French knots! I’m open to any kind of

Photos submitted by Ashley

commission and my best ideas come from brainstorming with my clients!

Tell us how you got started with your business.

I found my love for embroidery during the pandemic with my sourdough starter. When I wasn’t at the hospital, I spent my time at home embroidering Christmas gifts for my family. I posted them on Facebook and this led to multiple requests from family and friends to embroider for them. After so many projects, I knew this was a business I wanted to start so I could create even more embroideries!

How has it evolved in the first couple of years?

If you look at my first portraits of my pets that I made in 2020 (which you can on my website) and compare them to my last pet portrait commission, you can see the dramatic improvements that I’ve made since I started. I love taking on new challenges and trying new techniques. I recently made a beautiful plaid bow on a pet portrait. It was my first time taking on that kind of pattern and I crushed it! And I also started embroidering house portraits as a new challenge and it’s been so much fun!

What is the most popular item you specifically sell?

My most popular has to be my 6-inch pet portraits. They are so beautiful when they are finished and some have been for rainbow bridge pets. It’s such a meaningful way to remember your animals and keep them present in your home.

You do a lot with custom dog embroidery! What's something people might find surprising about that process?

I think there are two things that people might find surprising about my pet portraits. One is the amount of hours and the number of colors that go into each pet portrait embroidery. A six-inch pet portrait can take me anywhere from 20-30 hours from start to finish. I create each outline, stain the hoop and matching easel, and use all single threads in my portraits to create that realistic fur texture. I also use 15-20+ different colored embroidery threads to create the dimension and detail.

What is the thing you've enjoyed the most about doing this handcrafted business?

My absolute favorite thing is when people walk by my booth and see my board of

pet portraits. If they are a fellow animal lover, it creates an instant connection. And then we get to bond over showing each other pictures of our animals.

What is the most challenging thing?

Social media is by far the most challenging. I’m not the best at making satisfying embroidery videos like the ones I see on TikTok. I am so focused on what I am creating that I mostly share work-inprogress pictures. But this year I am going try to create more fun content and give a glance into my space and processes.

What is one craft or art medium you haven't really dabbled in yet that you want to try someday?

I would LOVE to try using a scroll saw to create huge floral wooden wall art or make a stained glass rose or skull. But I am very accident-prone and I enjoy having all my fingers attached … even though I stab them daily with blunt embroidery needles.

What is a word that best describes you? Optimistic.

What advice would you have given yourself five years ago?

Five years ago, I was 27 and struggling to find my art medium. I tried acrylic paint, watercolor, alcohol ink, sewing, etc. It was such a struggle for me to find a creative outlet that calmed my brain. I would tell my past self to keep experimenting and trying new things. I would tell myself that your art medium is out there and you’ll be so happy when you find it!

Where can people find your work?

I am most active on Instagram! That is the best place to get updates on what I’m working on. I also always apply for the Unglued Makers Markets at Brewhalla, so there is a good chance to find me and my embroideries there! And my website has galleries of all my past commissions, previously sold and available to ship embroideries!

Where can people find your work?

| jessica-in-stitches.square.site | @jessica.in.stiches | @jessica.in.stitches

CampusFM, spearheaded by Folkways, energizes community connections with its engaging and informative social content, crafted by local students and grads to highlight the best of the FM area's eateries, events, and shops! Their presence in Fargo Monthly introduces fresh voices who share their top picks and insights each month, making community culture relatable and fun—check it out!

Meet the CampusFM crew!

Katie is an animation student attending MSUM. She works as a photo editor and is currently directing her capstone 2D animated short film. She loves running, drawing, and baking lots of cookies.

Next Night Bazaar is June 20! The theme is Renaissance... grab your best Ren-inspired outfit and mark your calendars!

the og glow-up era

I went to CreativeMornings Fargo for the first time! It was super fun to connect with other creative people in the community and the speaker, Ruth Buffalo, had really great insight to share. I am super stoked to try out the Night Bazaar! It sounds like such a cool free event and an awesome way to get connected to the community!

Not only do people rave about Bully Brew's breakfast sandwiches, but their furry friends enjoy Bully Brew's Pup Cups too!

Kaylyn (Kay) is an NDSU student majoring in marketing and grew up in Mandan, ND. She loves longboarding, lifting, being in nature, music, holistic wellness, and thrifting. She even has her own ring business called 'theia' and is excited to dive into the silversmithing world.

brekky for everyone

I have recently been spending a lot of time at coffee shops, including Revival Specialty Coffee Bar and Bully Brew Coffee. If you have time, you definitely should check them out! I am really looking forward to spending more time outside, after the long winter! I love going to parks and being in nature, especially longboarding. My favorite parks to go to are Trefoil Park, Island Park, and MB Johnson Park!


Taiyler is a senior in the Visual Arts program at NDSU. She was born in Bismarck, ND, and grew up in Mandan. She loves all forms of art and has a passion for photography. She loves hanging out with friends, traveling, playing Nintendo Switch, fashion, and hanging out with her cat.

Lauryn is a graphic design and Spanish language double major at MSUM. She is originally from Forest Lake, MN and currently works for the MSUM Student Life Marketing Team. Her favorite hobbies are drawing, reading, writing, playing video games, and watching anime.

cinephilia for the win

I attended the closing night of the Fargo Film Festival, where they featured some of the biggest award winners of the festival. One of my favorite films was “Death to the Bikini!” directed by Justine Gauthier—a film about a young, rebellious girl who is forced to buy her first bikini, and throughout, she struggles with the idea of growing up and realizes that her body is changing. It was an emotional but equally funny film. I'm looking forward to the Red River Market—from local vendors to performers, each day is unique. My favorite parts are seeing the vendors who make handmade crafts and jewelry, and watching the live performances.

vintage is so in

This week I went to the Tastee Vintage popup shop with a friend and I had an amazing time. I copped some good finds and had a good drink (shoutout to Wild Terra for their ciders). I'm a people watcher and it was really fun to see everyone's individual style and to see each booth and business showcase the different aesthetics they carry with them. I am really looking forward to the upcoming vintage fests' that are happening in Fargo in the upcoming months. My favorite thing that I do at a vintage fest is to sift through the $5 and $10 bins because I ALWAYS find something that ends up being a staple in my closet. I also really like thrifting and vintage shopping in the Midwest and Fargo because it's not as picked over (referring to places like LA or NYC).

Gooseberry Park is one of the FM area's best hidden secrets. Tucked inside tall trees along the river, there is ample room at this park for picnicking, trees for shading, a park for climbing, and a bridge to connect Lindenwood Park!

Rachael is attending NDSU and pursuing her master’s degree in criminal justice. She was born in Warroad, MN, which contributes to her love of nature. Aside from being outside, she loves modeling, trying new forms of art, and perfecting recipes to share with friends and family.

picnic vibes

I recently attended my first Night Bazaar and had the best time. The theme was retro and it was such an immersive experience. I loved seeing everyone in their retro outfits and checking out all of the amazing vendors. With the weather warming up, I always find myself in the parks. My two favorites, Gooseberry and Island Park, are great places to hammock or sit and do some painting. There’s a great bike path alongside the Red River that I’m also excited to explore more this summer.

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