Holiday Train makes a stop in Detroit Lakes on Tuesday
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train once again rolls its way into Detroit Lakes on Tuesday afternoon.
The train is scheduled to stop between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Holmes Street Crossing behind the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.
Several entertainers are scheduled to perform at a concert during the stop. Performers include Shane Verrault, lead singer and guitarist for Canadian blues rock trio Wide Mouth Mason; singer-songwriter Willy Porter; brother-sister duo Kaylen and Kelly Prescott; and singer-songwriter Adam Puddington.
One of the train cars serves as a stage with one side opening up.
The public is invited to the free performance, but attendees are asked to bring a donation for the Becker County Food Pantry.
Food Pantry Director Jack Berenz said that boxes will be set out to collect food, and cash donations can be made as well.
While the usage of the food pantry has pretty much stayed the same from this time last year, Berenz said the need is still there. He said that 225 families were helped last month.
Food panty usage spiked toward the latter months of 2008, as the economy imploded.
"We saw a dramatic increase last year," Berenz said.
It ended up stretching the food pantry's resources.
The food pantry had to reduce the number of times a family could visit, and the size of food boxes shrunk as well.
The facility will get a bit of a boost when venison donations arrive next month. In reality, the venison donation likely will just allow the food pantry to get closer to a level of food it took in two years ago.
Many venison processors in the area declined to participate in the state's donation program last year because of increased regulation brought on by a lead scare.
"They put all of the liability on the backs of the processors," Berenz said. "It could have ruined a processor."
He said he doesn't blame the processors for not participating last year.
The last venison donation program brought 3,000 pounds of meat to the food pantry in 2007, most of it ground up.
"We have no idea how much we're getting," Berenz said of the amount of venison the food pantry will get this year.
Also helping matters is the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing the food pantry to buy meat at a sharply discounted price. For a time in 2008 and 2009, the USDA didn't offer meat for sale.
"We've been getting more from the USDA than we did last year," Berenz said.
With the Holiday Train coming, Berenz said that the public has been generous with food and cash donations, and the Canadian Pacific Railroad (which hosts the Holiday Train) donates money as well.
There are a few Holiday Trains rolling across the continent, with a Midwest leg that goes from Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Minnesota.
This leg began Dec. 5 in Detroit and continues through Friday, Dec. 18 with the final stop in Canada.
Other trains go across Canada and into New York.
The Holiday Train program started in 1999, and has raised $4 million in cash and 2 million pounds of food during its run.
The U.S. leg started in 2001 with the launch of a second holiday train.
Berenz said that the amount of donations received has varied. Usually, he said, the food pantry collects a couple of hundred pounds of food.
"A lot of people give cash," he said.
For the crowd, which will need a bit of warming up, hot chocolate will be available.
The show should be great as well.
"It would be nice for people to come and get some cheer," Berenz said.
More information on the CPR Holiday Train is on the Web at www8.cpr.ca.