Happy Harry’s Hot Valley Nights brings out a crowd for music, food and fun – Grand Forks Herald

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EAST GRAND FORKS — Happy Harry’s Hot Valley Nights opened Friday for the first of two nights of food, drinks, games and music.

Drake White and the Big Fire perform on Friday, Aug. 19, 2023, at Happy Harry’s Hot Valley Nights in East Grand Forks.

Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

This year, the event was held in a parking lot northeast of the Riverwalk Mall in East Grand Forks.

Wearing a shirt adorned with the phrase “Support Local Music,” Kristen Shipes’ motivation for attending the festival was pretty clear.

“Live music, obviously,” she said. “And a night without the kids — not even going to lie.”

Friday’s performers included Paint the Town at 5:30 p.m., Drake White & the Big Fire at 7:30 p.m. and Tracy Lawrence at 9:30 p.m. It was a nice night with a bit of a breeze — perfect weather, according to Duke Deziel, a returning attendee.

Though some people weren’t there for any artist in particular, and just enjoyed having something to do in the community, others were anticipating the night’s headliner — Tracy Lawrence, a singer with an illustrious, decades-long career.

Lawrence opened his set with a 2019 release titled “Made in America,” as an American flag graphic waved on the screen behind him and his band.

During his set, Lawrence told an audience member they seemed to be in need of a shot. After the next song, Lawrence laughed as he passed out a cup.

For Deziel, the festival is an exciting event to have in town. She enjoys watching all the performers and spending time with friends — both those she arrives with and those she spots unexpectedly in the crowd.

“Running into a bunch of people, that’s a fun part,” she said.

And there were quite a few people to run into, considering the sizable turnout. In addition to music, multiple food vendors and games were available for festival goers.

Vendors included Mi Madre’s Tacos, Bjerk, The Wok and Little Bangkok. Meal options ranged from tacos to half-pound footlong hotdogs to spicy pork sisig.

Festival attendees were invited to the “free adult arcade,” which featured ax-throwing, mini golf and cornhole.

Saturday’s lineup included Matt Aakre & the Dirty Little Secret at 5:30 p.m., Tigirlily Gold at 7:30 p.m. and Ingrid Andress at 9:30 p.m.

Dylan Scott was originally scheduled to be the Saturday night headliner, but was unable to perform due to medical issues, according to a Thursday, Aug. 17, Facebook post.

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Headliner Tracy Lawrence belts out a tune on Friday, Aug. 19, 2023, at Happy Harry’s Hot Valley Nights in East Grand Forks.

Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Andress stepped in to replace Scott, and festival attendee Dawn Swanberg was excited to hear her performance.

“At first I didn’t know (who she was), and then I googled her last night, and I said, ‘Oh, she’s got some good songs,” Swanberg said.

Though she hadn’t recognized the artist by name, she was familiar with more than one of Andress’ songs.

Sav Kelly joined the Grand Forks Herald in August 2022.

Kelly covers public safety, including local crime and the courts system.

Readers can reach Kelly at (701) 780-1102 or

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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