You’ve probably seen a stack of them while leaving the grocery store, or maybe you’ve seen the latest issue in a rack at your local video store after renting a couple of DVDs for the weekend. Actually, if you’re reading this, chances are pretty good you have a copy in your hands right now. Of course, I’m talking about the High Plains Reader and it’s getting ready to have a birthday party.
For those of you who don’t know, the Reader was founded in Grand Forks in 1994 by Ian Swanson, Peter Ryan, and Len Schmid and then purchased two years later by Raul Gomez and John Strand, who currently own it. After the flood of ‘97 destroyed their office in Grand Forks, they picked up and moved to Fargo where they currently reside and continue to publish the paper.
Throughout the years the High Plains Reader has intertwined itself into the community of the Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks areas, grabbing the attention of an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 readers a week. With Sept. 5 marking the 14th anniversary of the paper, what better to celebrate than just that: community?
“We’re a family here,” says Editor and Co-owner John Strand pointing out that the celebration of the Reader is not just about him and Co-owner Raul Gomez, but everyone involved, especially the readers.
In reality, the High Plains Reader is the community. Writers and other contributors to the paper are all people from around the area, voluntarily dedicating their free time to helping produce issue after issue, not for a paycheck, but for the love of doing it.
Of course it’s not just their own passion for the subjects they write on that keep them involved in the paper, but the fact that there are people just as passionate about the same things they are that read it every week.
Really, there is no difference between the writers and the readers; we all share interests in the same things. I mean up until a couple of weeks ago, I had done nothing more than read the High Plains Reader. Now that I have written for it, I don’t feel any different and that’s because I’m not.
Over the years, writers have shared their opinions weekly in the areas of current music, film, politics, art, technology, health, and cuisine giving the paper an eclectic personality suitable for the wide array of readers in the region. You can also count on finding a calendar detailing a list of upcoming events happening in the area, such as concerts, and a “Dear John” section for letters to the editor.
Also, HPR’s website has continued to grow and is now beginning to post content exclusive to the web. “Our goal is to have the most user-friendly, accurate data base of entertainment-related events in the Valley,” Strand recently wrote explaining the direction of the website.
The site also allows anyone to sign up and leave their own comments responding to articles they have read. It’s just one more way that the paper involves the community. Anyone interested in exploring what the online version of High Plains Reader has to offer can check it out at http://hpr1.com/.
The paper will celebrate its 14th anniversary starting at 7:30 p.m.with live music from local artists Sleeping in Gethsemane, The Palest Blue, and Brenda Weiler, at the Plains Art Museum. At 9:30 pm the party will then make its way to The Aquarium and continue on until 2:00 am, featuring music from Carl Clinton and The Great Divide, Jeremy Messersmith, and The South Moorhead Scratch Dungeon.
So come on down and celebrate with the HPR family and enjoy some of the best music the region has to offer. After all it’s just as much your party as it is ours.
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