WILLISTON, N.D. — If they call him, will he come?

Organizers behind an upcoming oil-related festival are starting a social media campaign asking Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to pay a visit to Williston.

So far, the effort, launched Monday morning on Twitter and Facebook, has been shared more than 500 times.

Jason Marmon, who, along with his father, put together the roster for the Bakken Energy Festival, said he has spoken with Donald Trump’s campaign manager, who recommended persistence.

“He said if he’s available, and if he gets enough attention in that area, he’ll come,” Marmon said. “He didn’t say he wouldn’t come.”

Should the Republican presidential candidate accept the crowd-sourced invitation, he’d be the keynote speaker at the festival’s energy expo at the Raymond Family Community Center, where a number of oil industry heads are expected to attend.

Marmon said he’s looking past Trump’s recent ill-received remarks about Mexican immigrants and Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero, and believes that an event dedicated to building relationships between big oil companies and the community they operate in would fit with the billionaire developer’s political vision.

“I was thinking since Donald Trump is on the campaign trail, and since he’s a fantastic entertainer, he needs to get himself out there and be visible, so why not North Dakota? This would be an ideal venue and event for him to come out to,” Marmon, a Williston native, said.

He added that he believes Trump’s message is one worth listening to, regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum.

“I like what he’s done in business; he’s very outspoken, but I can appreciate his motivation…he believes the country needs a change, and that’s pretty inspiring,” Marmon said.

The festival, which is set to take place Sept. 10 and 11, will include performances by Tanya Tucker and Little Texas at the fairgrounds, a charity golf event at Eagle Ridge Golf Club, and the expo. The events are designed to foster communication between local residents and the oil industry companies that have transformed the area.

“We’re looking to raise awareness of all the stuff that’s going on in the Bakken and get away from some of the negative connotations,” Marmon said. “We want to know that the community feels engaged. We think it’s very important that the community has a voice.”

He added that business leaders and higher-ups in locally operating oil companies will be accessible at all of the festival’s events, giving residents a chance to meet them and ask questions.

Marmon and his father were also behind Bash on the Grass, which drew nearly 1,700 people last summer in Watford City. This year’s Bash on Aug. 7 will feature Sawyer Brown and Chris Cagle.

To find out more about the Bakken Energy Festival, visit www.bakkenenergyfestival.com. To weigh in on the campaign for a visit from Donald Trump, go to Facebook or Twitter at #bakkentrumpfest.

By Elizabeth Hackenburg via Grand Folks Herald

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