Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming East Ridge High School Theater production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida.”

The fifth annual opening night gala runs from 6-7: 30 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the school, 4200 Pioneer Drive in Woodbury. Those attending can bid in a silent auction to support the theater program and enjoy appetizers and local entertainment.

“Aida” is a classic love story between an enslaved Nubian princess and an Egyptian soldier set to a pop-rock score.

Six shows will be presented from Nov. 8-17. Visit the theater’s website at www.theloftstage.com to reserve tickets. Cost is $8 for seniors and students, $10 for adults.

Marine on St. Croix

Caramel festival to offer sweet, sticky fun

The fourth annual festival of caramel — dubbed Caramelpalooza — begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the St. Croix Chocolate Company, 261 Parker St. in Marine on St. Croix.

The festival, which is open to the public and free to attend, features complimentary tastings of numerous gourmet caramel and dessert sauces, an impressive variety of artisan caramels and chocolate confections, caramel apples, and much-anticipated specialties such as bacon caramel corn.

Festivalgoers will be entertained by several musical acts, including Holiday Ranch, featuring vocalist Karen Paurus (best known locally from Simple Gifts’ holiday concerts), Dan Wascoe’s ragtime keyboards, The Fat Chance Jug Band, and the St. Paul Kazoo Band. And, as always, the day will include a special appearance by “CaramElvis!”

Other activities for the whole family include a petting zoo, face painting and games. New this year is a scarecrow-making station and a Fall Photo Zone, where visitors can pose with straw bales, pumpkins and other outdoor fall décor.

Denmark township

Nature center plans orchard walk

The Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center is planning an orchard walk as part of its natural challenges series from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at the center, 12805 St. Croix Trail in Hastings.

While students are getting a break from school they can enjoy a healthy snack. After walking through the center’s apple orchard, sampling different varieties of apples, the center will make some fresh apple cider with an old fashioned apple press. Participants will also get to pick a few apples to take home.

Program fee is $6 per person or $4 for Friends of CNC and children under 10 years of age. For more information or to register, call 651-437-4359.

Cottage Grove

Shutterbugs sought for annual contest

Cottage Grove residents with an eye for photography are invited to participate in the city’s 12th annual photo contest.

Any resident can submit their favorite photos for a chance to win a $50 first prize. Submitted photographs must be in Cottage Grove. Winners will be selected in six categories: black and white, celebrations or events, historical, parks or trails, people and streetscapes (buildings, places or things). The winning photographs will be featured in the city’s newsletter, on the city’s website, as well as other city publications.

The deadline for submission is Dec. 27, with winners announced at a City Council meeting in 2014.

A submission form must accompany all photographs and can be found at www.cottage-grove.org; search “photo contest.” Or call 651-458-2883.

All submitted photographs become the property of the City of Cottage Grove.

Oakdale

Photo exhibit on display at library

“Hidden in Plain View: A Touring Photo Exhibit” will be going on display during November and December at Oakdale Branch Library, 1010 Heron Av. N. in Oakdale.

The photographs are the work of Amy Anderson, Michael Dvorak, Peter Latner and Tom Wik. The exhibit was organized by the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) and is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. More about the exhibit at: http://www.melsa.org/melsa/index.cfm/events/hidden-in-plain-view/.

Call the Oakdale Library with questions at 651-730-0504.

Forest Lake

Local author to sign book on abuse

Jody Cowdin, a resident of Forest Lake, will be signing copies of her book “A Kid’s Guide to Understanding Domestic Abuse” from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Cupcake, 3338 University Av. SE in Minneapolis.

The book is an effort to help kids who have lived with domestic abuse find answers to their questions.

Children and teens have typically been given very little if any information to help answer these questions, and often believe that they are at fault for the conflict and fighting between the adults in their home. Along with the burden of self-blame, they believe they must keep the secret of what really goes on at home as a way of protecting everyone involved.

The interactive format of “A Kid’s Guide to Understanding Domestic Abuse” encourages kids to reflect on the information as it applies to their individual circumstances.

It also leads them to the realization that they can take control of their own lives and determine how they want to live, thus giving hope that they can break the generational cycle of domestic violence.

Jim Anderson