More than 9,000 Dakota Electric Association members and their families attended the Member Appreciation Event at the Minnesota Zoo on July 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. During the event, zoo admission was free to all who purchase electricity from the cooperative. The large participation amounted to the second largest attendance in the event’s 12-year history.

“It’s our way of saying ‘thanks’ to our member-owners” President and CEO Greg Miller said. “Dakota Electric is a not-for-profit electric cooperative, so this member-only event is our way of showing our appreciation.”

Members attending the event donated a record-setting 2,303 pounds of food and $713 for local food shelves.

“The amount of food donated was wonderful,” Miller said. “Members brought about 800 pounds more food than the amount donated last year. Community food shelves will be happy to receive the contributions.”

Since Dakota Electric began hosting this event, Dakota Electric’s members have donated more than seven tons of food and more than $4,900 to the local food shelves.

“Thank you, Dakota Electric, for the evening at the zoo,” one member wrote after the event. “What a treat! Our financial situation is tenuous, so having an opportunity to do a nice summer event was truly appreciated.”

Cooperative member-owners enjoyed the new Africa! exhibit, Russia’s Grizzly Coast and many other features at the zoo, including the Minnesota Trail, Tiger Lair, World of Birds Show, free monorail rides, the new Woodland Adventure Playground and more. Louie the Lightning Bug and Woodsy Owl were on hand for added fun for the children, and many people enjoyed discounted tickets to Harry Potter at the IMAX.