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It’s all about the bots, baby — robotics competition returns to Austin

You don’t have to go far to catch some interesting events on Saturday — Austin will be at the center of all robotic activity that day with the Austin Public Schools and Riverland College Southern Minnesota VEX Robotics Competition Tournament at Austin High School.

The local teams will play host to as many as 15 others schools, from Minneapolis and Mankato, to Windom and Okabena. Southland Schools, in Adams, will also be on hand to join Austin in representing Mower County in the contest.

A VEX  IQ Challenge will keep younger students busy, said adviser Kaylene Jensen. Vex robotic students of middle school and high school will be challenged to build a robot using a VEX Robotics design system kit. Saturday’s contest will also serve as a state qualifier.

There will be nine VEX IQ teams — one team from each elementary school and a fifth grade team from I.J. Holton; and six VEX Robotic teams, with two from I.J. Holton; two from Ellis Middle School and two home-schooled teams.

The event gears up at 10 a.m. and lasts throughout the day, until 6 p.m., when awards are given. The public is invited to come and cheer on their team of choice.

Other events Thursday

58th Annual Lions Club Pancake Fundraiser, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., First Methodist Church, 204 First Ave. NW. The Lions will serve pancakes, French toast, sausage, coffee and milk all day. Tickets $6 (children 6 years old and under eat free) may be purchased at the door or from any member of the Austin Noon Lions.

Second Floor Gallery Show – Paul Walech Roth, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Austin ArtWorks Center, 300 Main St. N. Gallery show featuring artwork of Paul Walech Roth.

Ski and Snowshoe Rental, 3 to 6 p.m., Jay C Hormel Nature Center, 1304 21st St. NE, Austin. Free ski and snowshoe rental every Thursday afternoon through February, depending on snow conditions. For more, call 507-437-7519.

LEGO Club, 6 to 7 p.m., Austin Public Library, 323 Fourth Ave. Create a LEGO masterpiece and display it in the library. For more, call 507-433-2391.

Twilight Tales: Evening Storytime, 6:30 to 7 p.m., Austin Public Library, 323 Fourth Ave. NE. Half-hour storytime program for pre-school age children accompanied by a parent or caregiver. For more information, call 507-433-2391.

Friday

Second Floor Gallery Show – Paul Walech Roth, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Austin ArtWorks Center, 300 Main St. N.

Food and Friends – Dinner Party Worthy, noon to 1:30 p.m., Mower County Senior Center. Celebrate the new year at this delicious meal – boneless pork chops, herb seasoned fingerling potatoes, steamed broccoli, roll and dessert (choice of shooters or dessert minis).  Entertainment by Rene Larson, country singer.  Cost for members is $8.50 and for non-members, $9.40. To sign up or for more information, call 507-433-2370 or stop by the Senior Center front desk.

Bingo, 5:15 to 7:15 p.m. Austin VFW. Early Bird at 5:15 p.m. Open to the public. For more information, call 507-433-6039.

Autism Family Respite Night, 6 to 8:30 p.m. YMCA of Austin, 704 First Drive NW. For children in kindergarten to sixth grade; an evening of ASD-appropriate fun staffed by ASD professionals. Activities may include snack-making, swimming, crafts, and games. For children with restricted diets, please send their own snacks. Cost $5. Register at the Hormel Historic Home; no payment will be taken at the YMCA. For more information, call 507-433-4243.

Austin Bruins vs Minnesota Wilderness, 7 p.m., Riverside Arena, 501 12th St, NE. Go, Bruins!  For more information, call 507-434-4978.

Austin ArtWorks Open Jam Session, 7 to 9 p.m., Austin ArtWorks Center, 300 Main St. N. House Band welcomes other musicians, singers, artists who want to share their work. Free event, but donations gratefully accepted. For more information, call 507-434-0934.

Saturday

VEX Robotics Tournament, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Austin High School, all gyms. Statewide high school robotics teams compete against each other in this amazing event, working towards a place at the state competition (see above). For more information, call 507-437-4563.

Second Floor Gallery Show – Paul Walech Roth, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Austin ArtWorks Center, 300 Main St. N.

Kids’ Studio – Clay, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Austin ArtWorks Center, 300 Main St. N. With Nicole Weiss. Cost: $5 for kids ages 4 to 14 years. For more information, call 507-434-0934.

Sunday

Austin Wedding Showcase, noon to 3 p.m., Hormel Historic Home, 208 Fourth Ave. Annual event showcasing wedding-related services and products. Fashions by Belles and Beaus, featuring Austin Bruins Hockey team members, and extensive vendor show. $4 admission, with complimentary champagne and prize giveaways. For more information, call 507-433-4243.

Bruins Book Time Out, 1 to 2 p.m., Sweet Reads Books and Candy, 407 Main St. N. Story time for kids with members of the Austin Bruins. For more information, call 507-396-8660.