Photo by Gary Ussery
Jenny Sheets is a nomadic spirit who has spent her life cruising I-94 between Fargo and the lakes of Minnesota, to western Montana and beyond. After her parents left her in the Grand Tetons (on what was supposed to be a short vacation) when she was 18, she discovered her obsession for the outdoors. She started climbing, biking, skiing, and running up mountains and continued that for the next 18 years before having a baby during the pandemic. She then packed up the husband, baby, and dog and moved back to the Midwest to be closer to family.
Now, she works as a cheerleader for the startup ecosystem as the Director of Startup Programs at Emerging Prairie. She’s also an avid writer (after earning an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana) and writes creative nonfiction essays rooted in place. Jenny and her family love to travel, run the river trails, visit new restaurants, and be outside as much as humanly possible, even in the winter. “Layer up,” she likes to say. Most recently, she started skateboarding at 37 years old, because why not?
A Busy Life
Jenny Sheets is currently in the process of living a busy life which has included:
- A six-month solo backpacking trip to South America
- A Master’s degree in Public Administration from Montana State
- An MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana
- Tons of skiing, trail running, and mountain biking during a 15-year stint in Montana
- A 10-day hiking trip in Antarctica
- Time as the CEO of a startup
- Time as a Writing Instructor at the University of Montana • And so much more!
Jenny’s Favorite Annual Events & Activities To Take Part In Around Fargo-Moorhead
“I love the Fargo Marathon week! The city is buzzing with excitement for spring and a readiness to cheer on all the runners. There are events for the whole family and every level and ability.”
Abraham Talam Kipkemei won the men’s division of this year’s Fargo Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 19 minutes and Sadie Smith won the women’s division with a time of 2 hours and 57 minutes.
Plains Art Museum Spring Gala
“This is a par-tay! The Plains Art Museum is so creative with each year’s theme and the design is incredible. You feel like a red carpet celebrity walking into the museum for this gala. Get dressed up, grab a drink, and dance all night to some great music—all while raising money for a great museum with free admission.”
This year’s event took its theme from Alice in Wonderland and was magical as always!
Friends of the Moorhead Library Book Sales
“This small library is so nostalgic for me, and such a great reminder of the importance of libraries in communities. They have frequent book sales throughout the year that fill the entire basement with awesome treasures.”
The spring book sale happened on April 29 and 30, but be on the lookout for more in the future.
Folkways Night Bazaar
“I don’t need an excuse to enjoy the gorgeous summer evenings in downtown Fargo, but the Night Bazaar sure sweetens the deal. Check out local vendors and witness some awesome art (even skateboarding) at this great downtown event.”
“Obviously, I have to choose StartupBREW as one of my favorite events in Fargo, not only because I host it, but because it’s genuinely one of my favorites! We have two company founders tell the story of how they founded their company in six minutes each. It’s fun, upbeat, and inclusive, and I get to make really bad jokes on stage.”
About StarupBREW Fargo
StartupBREW Fargo is a weekly event held on Wednesday mornings from 8-9:30 a.m. meant for entrepreneurs, innovators, creatives, and community members.
“This year, Fargo will have its first in-person Curiosity Week October 9-13. There will be events and talks on artificial intelligence, drones, interactive art, women in business, nonprofits, and more. Think startup week + TEDx + art + weird + big ideas + Fargo-Moorhead. It’s going to be big.”
Women and LGBTQ+ Skate Night
“Every Monday (for most of the year) the indoor skatepark, the Hawks Nest, hosts a night exclusively for women and those in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a fun, supportive, and inclusive night for anyone looking to skateboard. There are people getting on a board for the very first time all the way to people practicing crazy advanced tricks on the half pipe.”
“Held every summer downtown, this inspiring event is an auxiliary of the well-known ‘TED Talks.’ Every year an eclectic group of speakers, from sports mascots to business owners to farmers and artists, take the stage to share their stories. It’s high energy and the right amount of unpredictability.”
Don’t miss out on this year’s TEDxFargo which is being held on July 20.
“Silent” Reading Nights
“The Fargo Public Library hosts ‘silent reading’ parties at different locations throughout the year, such as Wild Terra and Fargo Brewing. Maybe it’s because I have a toddler at home, but the thought of sipping a beverage and reading in a social spot sounds so divine.”
Jenny’s Entertainment Recommendations
1. Run, Hike, Bike the River Trails
“We have some incredible dirt trails in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Thanks to the FM Trail Builders, volunteers, and our park districts, the river trails are great for beginner to experienced mountain bikers and offer a reprieve from the bustling city.”
2. Show at The Fargo Theater
“I always feel so fancy when I watch a show at the Fargo Theater. The ornate, ‘Gatsby-esque’ decor will take you back in time and make you feel like you’re truly on a vacation. Grab some snacks and a drink and settle into a great show.”
3. Pop-Up Concerts
“Somehow, I’ve gotten onto an SMS list that gives me alerts about upcoming pop-up concerts and events. I’m not sure how the robots found me, but I’m glad they did. I have learned about rooftop concerts, basement parties, and DJs in the park. I’m not really sure this tidbit is helpful for anyone, but just know that cool things are going on in Fargo-Moorhead.”
4. The Red River Market
“I love biking downtown in the summer and perusing the vendors at the farmers market. I try and plan my meals around the fresh produce and products available at the market. I also have an impossible time passing up the delicious baked goods and a tasty latte to go. Stick around for the music in Broadway Square and maybe a cooking demo!”
The Red River Market is just around the corner with opening day scheduled for July 8!
5. Dike West Skatepark
“Even if you’re not a skateboarder, going to the skatepark is an awesome warm-weather activity. Watch these talented skaters catch big air and try new tricks. There are a few picnic tables as well as a grassy dike for spectating.”
Jenny’s Favorite Bars and Restaurants
“I am always blown away by every bite of food I have at Thaikota, a northern Thai restaurant attached to a gas station off of University. The yellow curry with tofu and papaya salad are my favorite. Eater beware: when they say ‘spicy,’ they mean it.”
2. Madina Cuisine
“This is a ‘wow’ restaurant for me. This East African restaurant specializes in Somalian and Ethiopian food and has both meat and vegetarian options. I can’t even begin to describe how great the flavors are; just go check it out.”
3. Harold’s Bar on Main
“This is my absolute favorite hang out spot, whether with friends or on my own. The interior reminds me of a bar in New York or Portland but with a special Moorhead flare. It’s fancy-meets-humble and everyone is welcome.”
“Another local favorite, but it has to make my list. Located in a strip mall on University, in an unassuming space, the food will knock your socks off. Chef Ryan Nitschke sources local ingredients and creates simple dishes that put the unique ingredients front and center. Make a date night of it. I’m also a big fan of taking yourself out on a date, so belly up at the bar and dig into some good food.”
Jenny’s Perfect Day in Fargo-Moorhead
My perfect day in Fargo-Moorhead would definitely occur in the summer. I would wake up early and go for a run in Gooseberry Park (their dirt river trails are my favorite) and then grab coffee at Twenty Below in Moorhead. By this point, I’d probably have to return to mom life, so I’d grab my family and we’d head downtown to Broadway Square so little Henry Danger can run around and tire himself out before we grab lunch at either Pho D’licious, BernBaum’s, or Little Brother.
If we’re lucky, Grandma and Grandpa might take the kiddo for a little afternoon break so my husband and I could grab an afternoon cocktail at Marge’s Diner or a beer on the Rhombus Guys rooftop.
When Henry wakes up from his nap, we’d all probably jump on our bikes and take a big tour of the river trails, from Lindenwood heading north and over to the Original Homestead Park in Moorhead which has an actual homestead! Then, we’d swing over to Moorhead Freez for some delicious ice cream outside.
After this, we’d probably swing by She Said Butcher Shop and grab some fixings for summer grilling with friends. We would definitely need beer to-go from Junkyard Brewing Company as well. We’d grill and hang out with friends in our backyard as the warm sun set over the city. After that? Well, we’re parents who go to bed by 9 p.m. Unless the robots tell us about a cool party. Then, maybe…
- Gooseberry Park
- Broadway Square
- Original Homestead Park in Moorhead
- She Said Butcher Shop Owner Melissa Evans
What are some “hacks” or “hidden tips” people should know for going out in Fargo Moorhead?
- “It’s far easier to bike commute in the city than people think! There are hundreds of miles of commuting trails (paved and dirt) so give them a shot.”
- “Parking ramps are free overnight downtown—don’t drink and drive.”
- “If you want a spot to work remotely during the day that’s cool, but not too loud, go to the Jasper Hotel lobby. Plenty of seating, great light, and beautiful space. They also have a coffee bar and a daytime food menu.”
Jenny’s Favorite Places for Outdoor Recreation in the Area
1. MB Johnson Park
“I love this park because it feels like an escape from the city. Thanks to the amazing volunteers, the trails stay well-maintained, even throughout the winter. You can hike, bike, run, and ski, and many of the trails are wide enough for a stroller.”
2. Gooseberry Park to Lindenwood
“I live in Moorhead, so I love starting a run or bike at Gooseberry—the mountain bike trails are so fun—and looping over to Lindenwood. Sometimes I’ll go into the park and other times I’ll head north to the dike. We have so many beautiful trail options.”
3. Sheyenne National Grasslands
“This is a little outside of the city, but worth the hour drive. I can’t believe I grew up here and had no idea this gorgeous place existed. There are incredible hiking and mountain biking trails, and a few basic campsites. The landscape is spectacular!”
4. Detroit Mountain
“Also a little outside of Fargo, Detroit Mountain is about 45 minutes from the city and an absolute gem in the region. The little mountain offers year-round activities from downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, to hiking and mountain biking in the summer. Coming from the rugged mountain biking trails of Montana, I wasn’t sure what Minnesota could offer, but let me tell you: these trails are legit. They were designed by experts flown in from out of state and they are so fun! Bring your own gear or rent it at the mountain.”
As a mother in a young family, what are some places in the metro that other families should know about?
- “I’m going to let you in on a secret: the downtown skyway is a gold mine for young kids, especially on the weekends. It’s a quarter mile one way (from the Black building to the Civic Center) and kids can run free without running into anyone or knocking anything over. One time, we saw somebody playing fetch with their dog. I don’t think this is allowed, but my son loved it!”
- “The river trail by the city hall is another great place to let the kids run or ride bikes. It’s separated from the busy street by a retaining wall and you’re sure to see some birds and maybe a kayaker or two.”
- “Need a coffee break and a way to corral your kids? Twenty Below in Moorhead has a great kids area that is barricaded off from the general space. Caffeine + indoor playground = win.”
Jenny’s Product Recommendations
1. First and foremost, get good footwear.
“Whether it’s summer or winter, your feet need to be taken care of. I like Chacos in the summer because they have good traction and stay tight on the feet (which prevents blisters). In the winter I go for waterproof tennis shoes or Mukluk boots, the warmest boots on earth.”
2. Dress in layers.
“You don’t need the fanciest, most expensive gear, but prepare for the elements so you can stay outside longer. Base layer (tank top in the summer, wicking long sleeve in the winter) and then a top layer that can repel wind or water. If you’re going for a sweatshirt, choose something lightweight that you can tie around your waist or stuff in a backpack. “
3. Pick a backpack that you like to wear while hiking or biking
“It should be big enough to carry water, snacks, and layers, but not so big that it’s bulky and you’ll get sick of it after a short time. There are so many brands and options, and you don’t need an expensive model, so choose one that works for you. How many pockets do you need? Do you want a water reservoir? It’s very important to try a backpack on, so if possible, try it on and purchase it in person.”
“Never leave home without healthy snacks. Avoid food that is high in sugar so you don’t crash, and aim for all-natural choices. CLIFF Bars and Luna Bars are my go-to options when I am lazy—they taste fine, not great, and are kind of expensive. When I plan ahead, I pack nuts and dried fruit, or tortillas with peanut butter and bananas. “.