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Dakota Electric Association had 5,833 people attend the company’s 22nd annual Member Appreciation Event at the Minnesota Zoo on July 25. During the event, zoo admission was free to all Dakota Electric members and their families.

man with iphone takes picture of self and llama

A llama poses for a selfie with a couple at Llama Trek.

L E D Lucy doing high five with child

A child greets LED Lucy with a high five.

jazz band plays music while children dance

Kids enjoyed dancing to the Blue Ox Jazz Babies band.

Jerry Pittman talks in front of large crowd

Dakota Electric’s Board Chair Jerry Pittman welcomed people to the bird show.

As part of the event, Dakota Electric, a member-owned cooperative, asked attendees to bring food donations for area food shelves, and visitors donated 1,969 pounds of food along with $1,345, which was a new record amount of cash donated at the event.

“All of the cash and donations will go to local food shelves and will help a lot of people living in this area. Thank you to all who donated,” 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 to our members.”

Since Dakota Electric began collecting food at the event, Dakota Electric’s members have donated nearly 18 tons of food and more than $12,000 for local food shelves.

At the Member Appreciation Event at the zoo, cooperative members enjoyed Llama Trek, where they were able to walk through the display and have close encounters with Llamas. Members also had the opportunity to view the Hawaiian Monk Seals, African penguins, grizzly bears, gray wolves and more. Entertainment included the World of Birds Show, the Blue Ox Jazz Babies and close-up magic performed by Bob Miller.

LED Lucy, Dakota Electric’s mascot, was on hand for added fun for the children. Members can see photographs from the event on the company’s Facebook page (