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Legendary Moorhead Dairy Queen opens for 70th year

The harsh temps weren't enough to stop long lines on the big day.

One way Moorhead residents know winter's on its way out is by the opening of the Dairy Queen at 24 S. 8th Street, an annual event that's become a local tradition. 

But winter doesn't seem to have gotten the memo, and on the big opening day — Friday, March 1, which also happens to mark 70 years for the store — temps were at a low of -9. 

Not that anyone seemed to care, though; as per custom, locals lined up in force at the DQ's window.

According to KFGO, by the time the store opened at 9 a.m., about 20 people had gathered despite the 10-degree weather.

With another Dairy Queen in town, you might be wondering what makes this one so special, aside from its seasonal scheduling.

The short answer is, it can do things no other Dairy Queen does. 

Why? The store is still operating under a franchising contract signed when it first opened in 1949, allowing the owners to style their menu outside of corporate-mandated standards. 

That means they still serve items that were discontinued by the chain long ago, including Monkey Tails, Chipper Sandwiches and Mr. Malties — none of which you can find at modern "Grill & Chill" locations. 

"Corporate would love for us to disappear, no question about that," owner Troy DeLeon told Serious Eats in 2015. 

What's more, the store maintains that the very first Dilly Bar was made right between its own four walls in 1954 by the original owners, something DeLeon told Serious Eats the corporate offices won't acknowledge.

But it might just have something to do with the local character, too.

As Jay Nelson — a member of Fargo's Historic Preservation Commission and Moorhead native — writes on Facebook, the city isn't like other places:

In most towns the seasonal Dairy Queen does not open March 1, still winter in Minnesota. In most towns, there’s no line at DQ in wintertime 10 degree weather. In most towns there wouldn’t be a line this long to get ice cream in these conditions. Most towns don’t have the “Rebel Queen”.

Moorhead isn’t most towns.

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