A newcomer to the lakes area is one of the top winners in The Dispatch's annual Christmas lighting contest.
The Panache Salon and Spa in Baxter, which opened last February, shared first place in the commercial division with Brainerd Small Engine and Marine in rural Brainerd.
Residential winner in the contest co-sponsored by The Dispatch and the Mills Companies was Betty Farber of Motley.
Dan Vogt and Stacie Collins orchestrated the decorations at Brainerd Small Engine and Marine.
"Oh, I don't know how many lights we have," Vogt said. "They're all over."
Betty Farber of Motley decorated her home and yard with the lights of Christmas to win the top honor in the lighting contest.
His business is at 19468 County Road 25 North, which is five miles north of Brainerd on Highway 25.
The Panache entry, at 510 Golf Course Drive in Baxter adjacent to the golf club, features tasteful lighting around the building with about 5,000 lights. There are 500 lights on the roof.
"I call it classic elegance," said Monica Wentzel, Panache owner.
Last Christmas she lived in St. Cloud, where an old house that served as a place of business in the downtown was decorated.
"But St. Cloud doesn't have a Christmas contest," Wentzel said.
Brainerd Small Engine and Marine Inc. of Merrifield shared the top commercial honors in the Lighting contest this year.
In the residential division, the Farber decorations may be viewed in Motley three blocks east of Highway 10 at Eldredge Street and one block south.
Farber said this is the first time she has entered The Dispatch contest. But she said she has won the Staples lighting contest before in the 25 years she has decorated her home at a couple of different spots in Motley.
Asked how many lights were involved, she said, "Oh, Lord," and laughed. "I just don't know. I couldn't even guess."
She gives credit to her son, Brad. "He's kind of the director," she said. "He organizes all the hookups."
Second place in the commercial division was won by Jan's Sew'n with Heart in Brainerd. The Crow Wing County Historical Museum in downtown Brainerd was third. Honorable mention went to Plasteramics.
In the residential competition, Ray and Josie Czech placed second and Lynn Karsten and David Hall of Nisswa took third. Honorable mention went to Bob and Melodee Hagel, Peggy Sterling and Mark and Gladyce Macleod.
First-place winners are awarded $100 each. Second-place prize is $75 and $50 goes to the third-place winners. Results were decided by a vote of readers who sent in their choices.
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