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​The 2024 Downtown Fargo Burger Royale

All About Food | May 16th, 2024

By Rick Gion and Dan Altenbernd

rgion@prairiepublic.org

HPR: Hi, Dan. Thank you for doing this interview. Please introduce yourself to HPR’s readers.

Dan Altenbernd: Hey there, I’m Dan. I’m with H2M Brand Haus. We’re a marketing agency located in lovely downtown Fargo. I’ve been working within marketing and advertising for over 25 years, and I’ve officed in downtown Fargo for over 20 years. I also sit on the Downtown Community Partnership board, so as you can imagine, I’m a big fan of downtown Fargo.

HPR: What exactly is the Downtown Fargo Burger Royale?

DA: At its core, it’s a burger battle. We developed this event between downtown Fargo restaurants last year for a few reasons.

First, we wanted to increase activity for downtown Fargo restaurants. We often hear that there are still quite a few people who, when seeking activities/options, don’t consider downtown Fargo. We’re working to change that. We hope the event will create interest and curiosity for all businesses located downtown. Lastly, I’ve always been a proponent of downtown, and I really wanted to put our agency’s mark on something that lends itself to our company culture.

HPR: When does this event take place?

DA: Our event takes place the entire month of June. Our friends in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, have their Burger Battle event in January. We didn’t want to battle the cold. With our local “lakes country” culture, June tends to be a transition month, as schools are being released and lake travel increases. We chose a warmer month so people can take their time, hit multiple restaurants on one night with friends if they wish, and walk comfortably from one restaurant to another while hopefully checking out other stores and shops in between burger sampling.

HPR: How does it work?

DA: Our agency, H2M Brand Haus, does all the marketing and legwork — all except cooking the burgers. Once we release the restaurants involved, you’ll be able to visit any of the locations and order the burger that each restaurant has concepted/created for the Burger Royale. Each location has either a table tent or card with a QR code that people can scan and vote on five categories online: Patty, Bread, Toppings, Creativity, and Customer Service.

We’ll compile votes at the end of June, and then award the custom-made Burger Royale traveling trophy to the winner. Mezzaluna, who was last year’s event winner, currently has the trophy on display within their bar area.

HPR: What can we expect during this year’s Downtown Fargo Burger Royale?

DA: We’ve been working hard to blow it up this year. We can’t release all the details yet, but we are having several launch events to kick off the Burger Royale on May 31.

We are excited to see that we’ve increased the number of restaurants from 14 to 18...and counting. We’re really happy and surprised by how much attention the event received last year. The town was really supportive, which was a joy to see and hear. Also, we’ve had great support from local sponsors, which I think is a testament to the vitality of downtown Fargo.

HPR: What are some new things compared to last year’s Downtown Fargo Burger Royale?

DA: Not a lot. It went pretty well last year, so we’re going to work to not screw it up. Other than the kick-off events, the model is pretty solid.

HPR: Please add any further details that you want folks to know about regarding this year’s event.

DA: Keep your ears and eyes open when we begin releasing information about the event come mid-May. We have some cool things in the works that probably are completely unnecessary, but our agency is having a blast putting this together. We hope the community enjoys what we’re building.

HPR: Please describe last year’s champion burger.

DA: Mezzaluna was the champion of last year’s Burger Royale. It was pretty amazing. It was a butter-infused burger patty with house made French onion dip, dill pickles, tomato jam and Nueske’s cherrywood bacon.

HPR: Were there some other burgers that made top placement?

DA: It was a really close race between all the restaurants last year. All restaurants seemed to have fun developing unique concoctions. I’ll call out a few, but let me cover my a**…I’m not playing favorites.

Sons of Norway had a great entry, their Uff Da burger. Toasted Frog’s Bacon Jam burger was a favorite. And JL Beers’ S’more burger was just plain old fun.

HPR: We have some guesses, but how did you come up with the name?

DA: That’s from our agency’s creative team. It was based on the Japanese cult movie “Battle Royale.” It’s not a movie made for everyone, but we’re an agency that has a reputation to take chances, so again, it totally fit our culture.

HPR: Will some of the proceeds go to help the community?

DA: We do hope to make a donation to a soon-to-be chosen non-profit. Evaluations are still in the works. It takes a lot to pull off an event like this, but we have ear-marked dollars to be donated to a local cause.

HPR: Good luck with this year’s event. We look forward to seeing you on the tasting trail!

Rick Gion administers a Facebook food group called “Fargo-Moorhead Eats” that’s dedicated to the area’s great cooks and cuisine. The page now has nearly 37,000 followers. Check it out, join, and feel free to post items about your local culinary adventures and home cooking. And, while you’re at it, also join the Instagram and TikTok pages. Rick is also a featured guest on Prairie Public Radio’s “Main Street.” His weekly statewide segment about food called “Prairie Plates” airs between 3 and 4 p.m. every Wednesday.

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