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Sanford bash for 15,000: Concert featuring Fergie, Lionel Richie, marks completion of nearly $500 million hospital

NFL football player Carson Wentz, from left, and North Dakota native and actor Josh Duhamel throw souvenirs to the crowd prior to a concert by Fergie and Lionel Richie for Sanford employees and guests Wednesday, June 21, 2017, to celebrate the July opening of the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo at 5225 23rd Ave. S., Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO — Thousands of people flocked to the field behind the new Sanford Medical Center here Wednesday night, June 21, to celebrate its July opening with a concert featuring Fergie and Lionel Richie, as well as special guests Carson Wentz and Josh Duhamel.

Food, music and nice weather made for a "happy Wentzday," as one audience member put it.

Susan Jarvis, Sanford's executive director of emergency and trauma services, said 15,000 to 16,000 employees and guests attended the concert.

"This is a once-in-a-hundred-years type of event where you get to open a brand new hospital," Jarvis said.

Tommy Voss, who works in cardiac progressive care at the Sanford location on Broadway, said the concert was a good way for Sanford to show gratitude for its staff.

"I think they really appreciate their employees and everything they do, from the overnight shifts to working late, and this is a really great way to get everyone excited for the new hospital," said Voss, who will join 1,500 to 1,800 others to staff the new $494 million hospital, which opens July 25.

Karen Freeman, a Sanford employee from Alexandria, Minn., said she and a big group of colleagues traveled by bus to take part in the celebration.

"It's fun for everyone to let their hair down a little," Freeman said, sporting a Carson Wentz jersey. "It gets people out of their work environment."

Actor Josh Duhamel and NFL quarterback Carson Wentz, both North Dakota natives, joined in the fun, making guest appearances and touring the new hospital before the concert.

"It doesn't feel like a hospital," Duhamel said, noting that it's homey and comfortable. "And the technology is amazing."

Wentz agreed with Duhamel, and expressed gratitude for Sanford.

"Sanford has meant a ton to me," Wentz said. "Unfortunately, I had to see them a few too many times with surgeries . . . but I'm very appreciative of them."

Public tours of the new hospital at 5225 23rd Ave. S. are planned for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 22. Parking is limited at the hospital, but free shuttles are available at Scheels Arena.