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Blue Earth plans Christmas Wonderland

BLUE EARTH, Minn. — A Christmas Wonderland of Lights will be offered on the Faribault County fairgrounds in Blue Earth from Nov. 23 through Dec. 31.

Visitors will be able to enjoy 30 acres of spectacular animated holiday light displays from the comfort of their own car or from the Wonderland Express train.

For more information, call (507) 526-2916.

Midwest Dairy Expo is Dec. 5-6 in St. Cloud

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — "Opportunities for Your Farm, Family and Future’’ is the theme of the 2006 Midwest Dairy Expo, which is scheduled Dec. 5-6 in the St. Cloud Civic Center.

The event includes a trade show with more than 120 exhibitors, educational sessions and panel discussions.

Featured speakers are from the University of Minnesota, USDA, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, and dairy producers.

A keynote address will be given by Michael Yost, USDA foreign agricultural service administrator.

The registration fee for the two-day event is $25, which includes all program materials and access to the trade show, educational sessions, lunch buffets, breakfast, evening banquet and the hospitality suites.

To obtain a registration form, call (320) 203-6093.

Cattle Feeder Days set at five locations

MORRIS, Minn. — Grain price strategies for the cattle feeder industry will highlight Cattle Feeder Days.

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The Cattle Feeder Days will be held at five locations across the state in December.

Dates are Dec. 4, Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Crookston; Dec. 5, West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris; Dec. 6, the Royal Loon, Slayton; Dec. 7, the American Legion, Springfield; and Dec. 7, in the Holiday Inn South, Rochester.

The Rochester program will start at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. All the other Cattle Feeder Days will start at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.

Topics will include high grain price strategies; challenges and opportunities for building or expanding the feedlot business in Minnesota; the present and future of Animal ID; alternative feeding opportunities for Holsteins, backgrounders, cull cows; and more.

For more information, call Mindy Spiehs at (320) 589-1711.

Huhn wins Collegiate Discussion meet

ST. PAUL — Rachel Huhn, a University of Minnesota student from Litchfield, has won the second annual Minnesota Collegiate Discussion meet.

Eight undergraduate students from South Central Technical College-Mankato and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities participants. Students participated in two semi-final rounds and were judged on their basic knowledge of critical farm issues, and their ability to exchange ideas and information aimed at cooperative problem solving.

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Huhn will receive an all-expense paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference that will be held in Jacksonville, Fla., in February. She also received a $500 scholarship from the Farm Bureau Federation.

The other finalists were Christian Lilenthal of Arlington, Jessica Miller of Lake Crystal and Lucas Sjostrom of Lafayette. Finalists also received a $100 scholarship from the Farm Bureau.

Deer harvest may take 250,000 animals

ST. PAUL — The fall firearms deer harvest in Minnesota will likely exceed 250,000 deer, the Department of Natural Resources said last week.

That would be less than the record 290,000 deer harvested in 2003, but still among the top five harvests ever in Minnesota. DNR Big Game Program Coordinator Lou Cornicelli said hunters have currently bagged around 200,000 deer.

The firearms season continues in southeastern Minnesota and in the Twin Cities metropolitan deer management zone through Nov. 26. The muzzleloader season, meanwhile, will be held statewide from Nov. 25 through Dec. 10 and the archery season continues through Dec. 31.

Hatch blames ethanol gaffe for his loss

ST. PAUL — Defeated DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch has boiled his loss down to three factors, including his running mate’s late-campaign inability to answer a question about a blend of ethanol during a swing through greater Minnesota.

Hatch gives his election analysis in a letter sent to supporters. The attorney general led much of the campaign, but came up about 20,000 votes short of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the end.

Hatch said he suffered in areas of rural Minnesota with plants that make E85, a fuel blend that contains 85 percent ethanol. Hatch describes his poor showing in those areas without mentioning the precise incident or lieutenant governor nominee Judi Dutcher by name.

One week before Election Day, Dutcher was caught on film flubbing questions about E85 during a stop in Alexandria.

"While we still won the northwestern counties (where there are no ethanol plants), we got killed in western and southern counties, where seventeen ethanol plants are located," Hatch wrote.

Runestone Museum plans Christmas event

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — The Runestone Museum in Alexandria will host "Christmas in the Fort’’ on Nov. 24.

The annual event includes caroling, hot cider, roasted chestnuts, visits with Santa Claus and the holiday lighting of the town.

For more information, call (320) 763-3160.

Minnesota may have budget surplus

ST. PAUL — Two weeks before state finance officials release a much-anticipated economic report, they offered more clues that it is likely to project a budget surplus.

Finance Commissioner Peggy Ingison released a memo last week that estimates October tax receipts came in $54.8 million, or 5.1 percent ahead of an earlier forecast.

Since the last comprehensive economic report in February, Ingison’s department has tallied more than $578 million in unexpected tax collections. The forward-looking report that is due Nov. 30 also includes spending patterns.

Sales taxes and corporate taxes exceeded expectations, while income and motor vehicle sales taxes came in slightly below projections for October. There also was an uptick in "other revenue," which can include things like lottery proceeds, estate taxes, liquor taxes and fines.

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