Improvements on the way for this weekend's PotatoFestSubmitted: 08/28/2014

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's first-ever PotatoFest last year started as a charity fundraiser and a way to recognize the potato's importance in our area.

After last year's success, the event will expand even further this weekend.

PotatoFest features a parade, eating and cooking contests, live music all day, and the YMCA Couch Potato Race.

"We're hoping in the long run that PotatoFest is going to be the go-to event that you have to go to on Labor Day," said Downtown Rhinelander, Inc. Executive Director Maggie Steffen. "It's going to bring people from all over the state and hopefully the surrounding states, and this is where they come."

New events this year include a three-on-three basketball tournament, the second-ever appearance of the Spudmobile, and Alice in Dairyland.

We asked Steffen why she was wearing a duck hat for her interview.

"One of our new events is the Duck Regatta, which is, you buy your duck for five bucks," Steffen said. "Your duck has your ticket number on it. It gets floated down the river. Then it's captured, and we have prizes from first to twentieth. It ranges from $2,000, $1,000, $500, $250."

Trig's is the major sponsor of PotatoFest, and events will center around the greenspace near Trig's.

The festival starts with Bonus Friday Night events in the evening.

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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RICE LAKE - The Merrill football team doesn't feel it got the respect it deserved when WIAA playoff brackets came out last weekend. The Bluejays shared a Great Northern Conference championship.

But they were pinned to a number 8 seed, the lowest in the bracket, and travel to face top-seeded Rice Lake in a Division 3 Level 1 game Friday night.

Recent history doesn't favor Merrill in the playoffs. It has lost six straight playoff openers, dating to 2009.

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WAUSAU - People often leave unused prescriptions in their cabinets at home. But Wisconsin's Attorney General hopes you turn those prescriptions in Saturday to help solve a growing problem.

October 22 is Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said more people die from accidental drug overdoses in Wisconsin than from car crashes.

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RHINELANDER - A simple grooming process many people take for granted helps keeps John honest with himself.

"You can't think too far ahead, at least that's the situation I find myself in," John said.

Convicted of drunk driving seven times, John -- who Newswatch 12 is only identifying by his first name -- faced a harsh reality when he ended up in prison after three arrests in just 13 months.

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WAUSAU - Scott Walker faced a tough crowd at times in Iowa during his failed presidential bid. Now, an undercover video released this week may show those protesters were planted on purpose.

The Journal Sentinel reported the videos show activist Scott Foval bragging about disrupting a Walker rally in Iowa. Those videos were released by conservative activist James O'Keefe.

Foval talks about bringing people out of state into Wisconsin, but doesn't give a reason why.

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MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's utility regulator is planning to spend more money on energy projects in rural areas, including a plan to help underwrite the use of systems that convert cattle manure into electricity.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the systems known as manure digesters also help farms manage waste, which has become an increasingly controversial issue in Wisconsin as the size of dairy farms grows.

Wisconsin Public Service Commission officials say they're considering spending $10 million to $20 million on manure digester technology.

The commission also voted Thursday to authorize at least $7.7 million in funding for rebates for solar, wind and geothermal projects around the state that would keep a rebate program in place for energy consumers.

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What We're Working On Submitted: 10/21/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Tomorrow is "Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day." The Wisconsin's Attorney General hopes that you will turn in any unused prescription medications that are in your cabinets at home to help solve a growing problem. Find out why keeping those medications in your home could be dangerous and why it's important to turn them in.

Plus, this is the first week of high school playoff football games in Wisconsin. Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we'll bring you scores from all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

Merrill vs. Rice Lake

Fox Valley Lutheran vs. Antigo

Colby vs. Stratford

Northern Elite vs. Rib Lake/Prentice

Auburndale vs. Marathon

Laona/Wabeno vs. Abbotsford

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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