Check out these ‘Santa’ events this weekend

Santa Claus will be making appearances in Crookston this weekend at many family events like the free movie at Grand Theatre and Santaland at UMC. First, the Grand Theatre will be hosting their annual free Christmas movie at 10 a.m. with Santa doing prize drawings after the show. Every year there are tons of giveaways and there’s not a bad seat in the house so bring your entire family. Next, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their helpful elves will be at Santaland from noon to 3 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Crookston with plenty of activities, crafts, and prizes for all Crookston elementary students. Take festive photos, eat cookies, and drink hot chocolate in the Sargeant Student Center. Both events are sponsored making them free for Crookston area families.

Enjoy the EagleCam on the Minnesota DNR website

It’s EagleCam season! The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Eagle Cam has already had visitors to the nest and anyone can watch at mndnr.gov/eaglecam. Stop in every day (if you choose) for a chance to see eagles and other wildlife up close. They even have an infrared at night so you can watch what they call the “clean-up crew” of mice and other visitors. The eagle camera is sponsored by the MNDNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program which helps over 700 species of Minnesota wildlife thrive. This year they’re celebrating 40 years of effective conservation.

Don’t ignore report about major increase in farm bankruptcy filings

In a headline that certainly doesn’t spread any holiday cheer, it was reported over the Thanksgiving weekend that, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, farm bankruptcies filed in the 12-month period that ended last June in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin totaled 84, which is more than double the number of reported filings over the same 12-month periods in 2013 and 2014. For communities like Crookston, where the farm economy serves as the backbone for just about every other economic driver, that’s certainly discouraging news. News stories indicate that the increase in bankruptcy filings is due largely to low prices for corn, soybeans, milk and beef, but the stress on farmers’ bottom lines has been exasperated since this past summer by retaliatory tariffs that have closed the Chinese market for soybeans and held back exports of milk and beef. Worse yet, Federal Reserve Bank officials predict the rate of farm bankruptcy filings has not yet peaked. We need family farms to not just survive but thrive. Fewer family farms, the result of consolidation into massive corporate operations, is not the answer. It’s time to sit down with China and come up with a solution before things get worse.

Think twice before scheduling another PPV golf match

It's tough to be overly critical of last Friday's pay-per-view 18-hole golf match in Las Vegas pitting rivals but apparent pals Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson against each other. After all, it is what it is; if people wanted to pay 20 bucks to watch, so be it. (Update: Due to a technical glitch, refunds are being provided to everyone who paid.) But, still, in a word, it was lame. The golf was mediocre (the course was not exactly set up to penalize the competitors), with both players, had it been stroke play, shooting matching pedestrian 69s. The broadcast and production were awkward, which is expected when it's wall-to-wall coverage and only two players are playing, and the microphones worn by Woods and Mickelson during the entire match didn't exactly capture amazing moments. It was just an odd event all around. Maybe most of all, it was a bit off-putting to watch really rich people compete to become even more rich. By winning $9 million, one calculation compared Mickelson’s prize to the average middle-class person winning $1,600. This event should be a one-and-done.

Give us more Tirico, Dungy and Harrison

There was a Thanksgiving triple-header of NFL football, and, aside from the Lions not helping out the Vikings by beating the Bears, the biggest takeaway from the day is the broadcast team for the nightcap between the Saints and Falcons. NBC put play-by-play guy Mike Tirico with former player and coach Tony Dungy and former player Rodney Harrison, and what a refreshing broadcast it was. There was no screaming, yelling or related theatrics, no cliches piled on cliches, and no constant talking to fill every second between snaps. Essentially, neither Tirico, Dungy or Harrison at any time made themselves as big or bigger than the game itself. This was a winning combination that should be teamed up more in the future.