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'Capital for a day' cities set

ST. PAUL - Five rural communities - Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Thief River Falls, New Ulm and Winona - will help kick off Minnesota's 150th birthday party next May.

Graphic: Map

ST. PAUL - Five rural communities - Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Thief River Falls, New Ulm and Winona - will help kick off Minnesota's 150th birthday party next May.

The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission named each a "capital for a day" during Wednesday Capitol ceremonies.

The communities represent different geographic regions of the state and were selected by a statewide Internet vote of 10,000 Minnesotans.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the capital

for a day program should give Minnesotans a chance to learn more about the state's history.

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Representatives of the five communities were excited about getting the opportunity to show off to state officials and others who will tour the temporary capitals during statehood week, May 11-18.

The five communities represent specific geographic areas of the state. Sesquicentennial Commission Executive Director Jane Leonard said geography was picked as a regional boundary because it has had such an impact on the state's history.

"Minnesota is so shaped by the landscape," she said.

Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce president Dave Hochhalter nominated the city of about 8,000 people for the temporary honor.

"We're proud to be a part of that - to help tell our story as well as to help the state celebrate their 150 years," Hochhalter said. "We're looking forward to that."

Hochhalter has been a resident of Detroit Lakes for more than 12 years.

"I've gotten to know and appreciate what the region offers," he said. "We're excited to have this opportunity and we appreciate the statewide support for Detroit Lakes."

Detroit Lakes represents the "deciduous forest zone" that runs diagonally northwest to southeast down the middle of the state. It includes the Twin Cities.

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Detroit Lakes Mayor Larry Buboltz described Detroit Lakes as "a fun, growing and dynamic city" with 412 lakes within 25 miles.

Detroit Lakes has hosted other statewide festivals, including two governor's fishing openers. Pawlenty reminded Buboltz it was bitterly cold during the 2003 angling event. But he also praised the community for its hospitality.

Bemidji won the right to represent the "coniferous forest zone" of northeastern Minnesota.

Thief River Falls was picked capital for the "tallgrass aspen parklands" geographic area that covers most of western Minnesota.

Most activities during the capital for a day are expected to be ceremonial. Celebrations are planned around the state during the year, starting with the capital for a day events and a display on the Capitol grounds in St. Paul.

No specific dates have been set for each temporary capital's special day.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5524

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com

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'Capital for a day' cities set Don Davis 20071206

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