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Best Bets: Throw bags for a cure; Austin tavern raising money with hot dish feed to fight cancer

Paint the Town Pink is just around the corner and people are working to raise money for cancer research. In previous years, none have raised more money than the “Dutchtown Jumpers” team of Hoot and Ole’s, and they hope to continue that tradition by hosting a bean bag tournament and hot dish feed on Saturday.

“This is our third year doing the hot dish feed and fourth year doing the bean bags,” said Hoot and Ole’s co-owner Judy Enright, whose mother passed away from breast cancer. “We host fundraising events throughout the whole year. They’re a lot of work, but it’s all worth it.”

Enright said that bean bags will cost $10 per person. Winners can get a percentage back as a prize, but Enright said people usually donate their winnings.

The hot dish feed will be set up like a buffet with each plate costing $5, according to Enright. Those who want to have more helpings will have to pay for each additional plate.

“We don’t want people going up with dirty plates,” Enright said.

Also included in the festivities will be chicken bowling, in which contestants will roll frozen chickens at pins.

Contestants will receive two chickens for $5.

“It’s hard to do because the chickens don’t roll the way you want them to,” Enright said. “It’s difficult to get a strike or a spare. We keep track of your score, but we may have a few more rounds because people may tie.”

Enright said there will also be raffle drawings at 4 p.m. Items up for grabs this year include half a hog, $50, and a Henry model .22 lever action rifle.

“People should come to raise money for a great cause and to taste some of the most amazing hot dishes,” Enright said. “We never end up with the same kind. It’s all donated. It’s just a really fun time and fun to watch. The chicken bowling is a blast.”

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Hoot and Ole’s Tavern. For more information, call 507-434-7102.

48 teams to compete in  robotics tournament

Austin High School is the place to be for all things robotics on Saturday. A total of 48 teams will complete in the VeX VRC Robotics Tournament, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the high school gyms.

Being held at the same time will be the 24-team VEX IQ Challenge. Locally, there are 14 Austin teams involved in the competitions with nearly 130 students from the district.

“We are expecting around 430 students from all teams from around the state to be participating in the event,” said Kaylene Jensen, a coach and organizer. “All teams are competing for State Tournament Invitations as well as other honored trophy awards.

The theme for the middle and high school robotics competition is “In the Zone.” The contests are held on fields with two opposing alliances, comprised of two teams each. The challenge is to use the team-created robot to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by stacking cones on goals, by scoring mobile goals in goal sones, by having the highest stacks, and by parking robots.

Other schools represented include Southland, Stearns County 4-H, Mankato, Blue Earth Area, Hayfield, Paynesville, Ramsey PACT, Tri-City (Montgomery), Concordia Academy (Roseville), Foley, Dover-Eyota, St. Croix Lutheran Academy (West St. Paul). Waseca, and Heron Lake-Okabena.

In addition to Austin, the elementary IQ challenge will feature teams from Southland, Austin, Mankato and Sacred Heart in Adams.

The tournament will act as the qualifier for all teams at the state tournament to be held in St. Cloud on Feb. 2-3.

Schedule of Events

Friday, Jan. 19

• Second Floor Art Gallery Show – Julie Fakler and Ian Hanson, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Gallery show featuring the work of painter Julie Fakler and photographer Ian Hanson. Free admission. For more information, call 507-434-0934.

• Food and Friends Dinner Party, noon to 1 p.m. at the Mower County Senior Center. Celebrate the New Year at this special meal – mixed Spring greens with cranberries, candied pecans and choice of dressing, boneless pork chops, herb-seasoned fingerling potatoes, steamed broccoli, roll, and dessert, complete with entertainment. Members $8.50 and non-members $9.50. To sign up or for more information, stop by the Senior Center Front Desk or call 507-433-2370.

Saturday, Jan. 20

• Learn to Ski Cross Country, 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Classical ski lessons will include instructions for beginners as well as tips for intermediate skiers. Lesson cost is $6.00 for adults and $1.00 for children (accompanied by an adult), which includes poles, boots, & skis. Meet in the Interpretive Center. Preregistration is required (507-437-7519, info@hormelnaturecenter.org).

• Second Floor Art Gallery Show – Julie Fakler and Ian Hanson, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Gallery show featuring the work of painter Julie Fakler and photographer Ian Hanson. Free admission. For more information, call 507-434-0934.

• VEX Robotics Competition, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Austin High School. Amazing opportunity for high school kids to build and show off their robotic skills with a specific challenge. More information to follow.

• Kids’s Book Art, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Austin Public Library. Meet in the programming room.  For school-aged youth or pre-K with an adult.  Bring an over shirt or wear a shirt you don’t mind getting dirty. For more information, call 507-433-2391.

• Saturday Science Experience – Hypothesis and Experiment: Guess and Test, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Austin Public Library. Learn about the scientific method and do an experiment. For parents and their child/children. For more information, call 507-433-2391.

• Author Visit – Michael Weinmann, 1-2 p.m. at Sweet Reads. Meet the local author of a coming-of-age story set right here in Austin. For more information, call 507-396-8660.

• Tech Tutor Time, 1-2 p.m. at the Austin Public Library. Basic one-on-one computer tutoring provided for such things as setting up and using email, using web browsers, working in Google Docs or MS Word, searching the library’s collection, downloading eBooks, and assisting with projects in progress. Bring your own device or use one of the library’s desktops. For more information, call 507-433-2391.

• Public Skate, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Packer Arena. $4 to skate and $1 to rent skates. For more information, call 507-433-1881.

Sunday, Jan. 21

• Wedding and Event Showcase, noon to 3 p.m. at the Hormel Historic Home. Find vendors and service providers to help make your wedding or event amazing. Admission is $5 per person at the door; free admission for members of the Hormel Historic Home. Enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne while you stroll through our 1871 Historic Home and Carriage Hall Event Center. For more information, call 507-433-4243.