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That Small Town Life


Ashley backpacking for a documentary class in Scotland

At some point in life, maybe in grade school or high school, one thinks – “Where do I want to live someday?” Many of us raised in small towns think of what else is out there – the fancy downtown apartment, the night life, the big job with the amazing salary, or maybe just the idea of seeing what or who is out there!


Well, I personally did! When I was done with high school I was excited for college – to begin my next adventure in Bismarck, North Dakota. If I ever thought I’d see myself in a “large city” in North Dakota, I would look at Bismarck. It’s clean, friendly, and has a lot to do, which are at the top of my priorities when choosing a place to live. However, I continued my adventure to Ohio to finish my degree in photojournalism that was going to take me around the world and back! I thought mostly about newspaper and magazine documentary work. However, life always has different plans for us – whether it is relationships or work.


I found myself in Washington, D.C. and Scotland for a summer; Huntsville, Alabama; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and West Fargo, North Dakota (14 years) before I found my perfect forever home in Rugby, North Dakota!


Looking back, I enjoyed my travels and the places I lived. Each place brought me wonderful friendships and experiences at each job. But as time went on, I would hear about my siblings having kids or the get togethers that I would miss out on. And anyone that has lived away from home knows when you visit once or twice a year for a few days it is IMPOSSIBLE to visit everyone you want to see!

I could have easily stayed in West Fargo, but I knew something was missing. I wanted that small town life. Deep down, I was always a small town girl!
Ashley as an RHS cheerleader in high school. She still is one to this day!

My favorite memories are of downtown Rugby and my grade school, Little Flower. First and foremost, we would either walk, bike, or jump on one of the school buses from the country (hehe) to get to school! We lived 2 blocks from the high school and it just happened to be the first stop for the country kids, so in the winter we would catch a ride instead of walk in the cold – and do the same after school. A few bus drivers would even drop my sister and me off at our house if it was incredibly cold. I doubt that would happen in a big city!


As I now own and operate a business in downtown Rugby, I only hope to add to the memories of future generations.

I giggle as I change the mannequins and window displays in my store, wondering if I am in a Hallmark movie as I wave to the local postal worker walking by, or to the kids after school. These are the little things that make a place worth calling home.

In this day and age, when a job can be found almost anywhere, one should really consider

what are you looking for when moving? If you have ever been asked the top five most important things to you, we often say the same things – family, friends, health, education, and career. I look at Rugby and am amazed what our small community has to offer. We have a new hospital that is being built to make sure they are in our community for another 100 years. We have both a private school and a public elementary and high school that have a wonderful teaching staff, and are always looking to excel.

Rugby, North Dakota monument
Rugby, North Dakota

North Dakota may not have a “professional” sports teams, but we might all think of NDSU football and UND hockey as better than professional! Rugby has something better – High School sports and activities. The entire community gets involved from pep rallies, parades, games, concerts, and plays. I often hear people say, “There’s nothing to do in a small town.” Those of us living in small towns are here to challenge that. No matter where you live, it is truly what you make of it.


Rugby has an abundance of volunteer opportunities that can give you something to do and be fulfilling at the same time. We all work together to make things happen! It really does take a village.

Last but not least, there might be circumstances in which you don’t love everyone in the community – you may have differences of opinions, cultures, lifestyles, or whatever they may be, but in the end, we all take care of each other. If someone is ill or has a family emergency, the community rallies! It absolutely amazes me and can easily bring a tear to my eye. We have fundraisers and do what is needed to let someone know they aren’t alone in this life or community!


Every town, big or small, is going to have their different advantages and disadvantages. In many small North Dakota towns, the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages and you’ll be proud of the town you call home!





Ashley Berg is the owner/operator of Main Street Boutique in Rugby, North Dakota. She is a proud graduate of Rugby High School and serves on the Pierce County Commission, Rugby Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rugby Chamber of Commerce, and Souris Basin Planning Council Board of Directors.


Learn more about what's going on in Rugby, North Dakota!



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