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Answer Man: Marita's to be replaced by -- what else? -- a spa

Merle Haggard, one of the authentic country greats, died Wednesday. If he ever played Rochester, it was more than 30 years ago, according to the Mayo Civic Center.

Dear Answer Man, when did Marita's in Red Wing closed? I loved that place! What's going to take its place in the St. James Hotel?

It closed at the end of January. I know Marita's well -- Mrs. Answer Man was a big fan. It was a truly original and elegant home design store, family-owned and a part of the hotel's retail center since 1998. Take a look at their farewell page on the web and you'll see what I mean by elegant.

What's going to take its place? A salon and spa, according to Samantha Bengs, the hotel's marketing coordinator. No opening date yet.

Among other changes at the hotel -- and just imagine Red Wing without that Main Street landmark -- they've added five new guest suites that have architectural details from the president's house at Hamline University in St. Paul. Hamline was founded in Red Wing in 1854 -- the year Rochester was founded --and the amazing Greek Revival house in St. Paul was ridiculously torn down last year.

The public is welcome to have a peek at the new hotel rooms from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 21.


Dear Answer Man, I was sad to hear about Merle Haggard's passing Wednesday. Didn't he have to cancel a concert in Rochester last year?

No, but he did cancel some tour dates last spring because of a bout with double penumonia.

One of my research associates contacted Donna Drewsat Mayo Civic Center to ask whether Merle ever performed there. "From time to time we have held dates for a possible Merle Haggard concert, but in my 30-year history with MCC, he has not played here," she said.

So Merle was a stranger to Rochester during those years, but maybe he was here in the '60s and '70s, when he was at his peak. If you know when or where, tell me and I'll share with the world. He was at the State Fair grandstand with Kris Kristofferson last year and at Mystic Lake in 2014.

What was your favorite Merle song? Mine's "The Bottle Let Me Down," which came out a mere 50 years ago.

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