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Best Bets: New interpretive center opening Saturday

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will celebrate Earth Day by dedicating its new interpretive center on Saturday.

“It will be a fitting day because they broke ground for the new interpretive center on Earth Day 2016,” said Director Luke Reese.

The Nature Center will hold an open house for donors only from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The open house on Saturday will be followed by a 1 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony, after which the nature center will be open to the general public.

The dedication of the new interpretive center will be the culmination of a concept that began four years ago under former director Larry Dolphin.

“It was originally part of the Vision 2020 project before becoming its own deal,” Reese said.

According to Reese, the old interpretive center was lacking in space for educational programs and the exhibits, from the 1970s, were in need of updating. The new interpretive center is three to four times larger than the previous interpretive center and will include new hands-on activities.

“People will be able to get a better look at our animals,” Reese said. “There is also a new early childhood area that includes puzzles and ‘I Spy’ games.”

Many exhibits and items from the old interpretive center were sold in an auction held last month. Reese said some of the old taxidermy will still be on display.

The construction of the interpretive center cost $5.8 million with The Hormel Foundation donating $5 million. The Friends of the Hormel Nature Center raised $1 million for the purchase of new exhibits. Private donors, as well as the city of Austin, gave money for the construction.

A special reception will be held at the nature center on Friday evening for donors who contributed over $5,000 or more. Members of the Hormel family will also be in attendance.

“My hope is that when people go for a walk on the property they will come in and get a better understanding of what they’re seeing,” Reese said.

For more information, call 507-437-7519.

April 21

•Autism Family Respite Night, 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the YMCA of Austin. For K through 6th grade kids — an evening of ASD-appropriate fun staffed by ASD professionals. Cost: $5. Register at the Hormel Historic Home. No payment will be taken at the YMCA. For more information, call 507-433-4243.

•ArtRocks Open Jam Session, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. A monthly jam session for musicians to meet and play with other musicians from around the area.

•Seussical, 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre, Riverland Community College. “Suessical” lovingly brings our favorite Dr. Seuss characters to life, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuz, Lazy Mayzie La Bird, and a little boy with a big imagination: Jojo.

April 22

•Sweet Stories Children’s Story Time, 10 to 11 a.m. at Sweet Reads Books and Candy. For ages 1-7. For more information, call 507-396-8660.

•Painting Skies for a Variety of Moods, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Jim Wegner will teach you how to create four very different skies that will suggest atmospheric change with value and color. Cost: $55 (includes paper).

•Second Floor Gallery Show – Tom Hormel and Chad Augustin, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. 2nd floor gallery show featuring works by artists Tom Hormel and Chad Augustin. Free admission and open to the public. For more information, call 507-433-0934.

•Kids’ Studio: Recycled Monsters for Earth Day, 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Create a monster using recycled paper rolls with Krystal Lennie. Cost: $5, for children ages 4-13 years old. For more information, call 507-434-0934.

•Earth Day Celebration: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Dedication of The New Interpretive Center, 1 p.m. at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. For more information, see above or call 507-437-7519.

•Seussical, 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre.

•Sola Fide Observatory Viewing, 9 to 10 p.m. at the Sola Fide Observatory. Learn about the night sky from our local experts. For more information, call Keith at 507-440-1244 or email imstar@smig.net.

•10th Annual Community Pride Days, various locations around Austin. It’s Spring Cleaning time! Great opportunity for individuals and groups to join in keeping our city a beautiful place to live, work and play. Stop by the Austin Park and Recreation office to pick up bags and to sign up for designated areas around the city to clean up trash left by the winter – parks, trails and public places. Protective gloves will also be available. For more information, call 507-433-1881.

April 23

•Stepping Out for Autism Walk, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Hormel Historic Home. Annual fundraiser for funds to support autism program events. Entertainment, refreshments, and raffle follows. $15 for adults, $10 for children. For more information, call 507-433-4243.

•Seussical, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre.

•Forte Milers – Grand Ol’ Barbershop Harmony, 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Historic Paramount Theatre. Traditional country western songs sung in the barbershop a cappella style – songs like “Crazy,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Ring of Fire,” and “The Tennessee Waltz.” Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the show. Student tickets are $5 and children age 5 and under are free. For more information, call 507-434-0934.