Ryder Husted, 2, gets his photo taken with Santa Claus during the North Pole Extravaganza on Saturday at Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota. Audrey Timm looks over Christmas specials at This and That Recreated during North Pole Extravaganza on Saturday.Vonnie Tillemans, left, gets served a Sloppy Joe lunch by Kaci Callens at Bethel Fellowship Church. Hollie Thompson of 3B Vineyards in Dawson was one of the North Pole Extravaganza vendors. Charlie Pesch of Big Dipper Honey in Minneota talks over his products with Brenda Swoboda on Saturday.

Shoppers get holiday jumpstart during North Pole Extravaganza

Despite many community members attending the state football semifinal game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the annual North Pole Extravaganza went on as planned.
City Hall Bar & Grill livestreamed the Minneota vs. Rushford-Peterson game at 9 a.m. and approximately 50 people cheered on the Vikings. City Hall Bar & Grill manager Jordan Dressen was busy making breakfast pizza, which was a hit with patrons.
"This is better than actually being at the game," one customer remarked. "You can watch the replays and the food is really good and less expensive than the concession food."
Upon completion of the game, many of those watching went shopping to take advantage of the specials offered during the North Pole Extravaganza.
At Bethel Fellowship Church, about 15 vendors were on hand selling products.
"It's been pretty steady in here," said Charlie Pesch, selling his Big Dipper honey products.
Santa Claus came down from the North Pole to be on hand to greet children, have them tell him what they wanted for Christmas, and have his picture taken with them. The reindeer stayed home, however, so Santa arrived on a Minneota Fire Department truck.
One humorous event occurred during Santa's visit. A little girl kept tugging on her mother's pant leg, repeatedly trying to get her attention to ask a question while the mother was visiting with a friend.
Finally, the mother bent down and asked her daughter what she wanted.
"Why is he wearing pajamas"? the little girl said while pointing to Santa seated in his chair.
There was also a silent auction with proceeds benefitting the Christmas Angels program, a free-will donation Sloppy Joe meal, and a St. Edward bake sale. Three long tables filled with breads, bars, cookies and treats was nearly wiped out by noon.
Many local businesses participated in the event again this year offering discounted prices, door prizes, drawings, and treats.
"I got some really good deals," said one shopper. "Now I have to look for some more. I might as well try and get as much done as possible. I like to shop local to help the small businesses. They all treat us so well."
There was also the annual silent auction held at the VFW with over 100 items, too. Proceeds from that auction benefitted the St. Edward School.
This was the 24th annual North Pole Extravaganza held in Minneota. The event is designed to give shoppers a chance to buy locally before Black Friday. This would have been the 25th anniversary, but the event was not held last November because of the pandemic.

Judy Ratajczak tries to get a jump on holiday shopping as she browses over the specials at the Arched Door. Mascot photo by Scott Thoma

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