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Detroit Lakes ready to be capital for day -- The Fat Cats to perform at State Capitol

As Minnesota blows out 150 birthday cake candles today, the state is prepared to celebrate.

To commemorate the once-in-a-lifetime milestone, the state is hosting Statehood Week, which runs through May 18.

Five Minnesota cities representing Minnesota's different landscapes were selected to serve as an honorary "Capital for a Day." Detroit Lakes will take its turn Wednesday.

Parker Williams, a retired teacher from Frazee, lives in Detroit Lakes. He said he was excited to hear about the upcoming events.

"I was raised in North Dakota, so I've had to learn about and appreciate Minnesota," Williams said. "It's a tremendous honor."

The week will be capped with a Statehood Weekend Festival at the official state Capitol in St. Paul, ending with a Sunday program and featuring music from a choir, comprised of people drawn from each of the state's 87 counties.

Some of the other sesquicentennial plans and events include a new cookbook to show how Minnesotans cook and eat in the 21st century, a new state song, "Shines for All to See," and a Chautauqua-style musical called "Old Minnesota: Song of the North Star State."

"For me, it's a chance to learn more about Minnesota," Williams said of DL's opportunity to shine this week.

And in addition to DL being in the state's spotlight for a day this week, the city also will be well represented this weekend during the state's sesquicentennial festival. The local band The Fat Cats have been asked to perform.

"I'm still trying to let it sink in," said Fat Cats lead singer Douglas Newman. "It all seems a little surreal."

Newman said the band was told to expect a crowd of up to 80,000 people gathering in front of the state Capitol.

"It's humbling and it's an honor," Newman said. "We really love it up here."

In addition to the "Capital for a Day" program, the Minnesota History Center in the Twin Cities has selected 150 people, places or things - everything from covered wagons rolling down a trail to the invention of the GPS system - and corralled them into an exhibit documenting this year's sesquicentennial.

The exhibit includes a winning nomination from Moorhead resident Jenn Mattson, who nominated Prince as an exhibit submission. Prince was the most frequently submitted nomination, according to the history center.

Williams said he hopes the sesquicentennial exhibit and associated events will go beyond its celebratory factor.

"It's something that can be used to educate the average citizen about Minnesota," Williams said.

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