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Northland bars prepare for Vikings crowds

From preparing extra food and bringing in more seats, to making purple drinks, the Northland's bars and restaurants are preparing for a crush of customers during Sunday's Minnesota Vikings game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is hoisted up by a jubilant Stefon Diggs after Diggs made a game-winning, 61-yard touchdown catch on the last play of the NFC divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 14 in Minneapolis. (Jerry Holt/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

From preparing extra food and bringing in more seats, to making purple drinks, the Northland's bars and restaurants are preparing for a crush of customers during Sunday's Minnesota Vikings game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Actually I'm going out to get extra chairs this week. I'm not going to buy them, I'm going to rent them. We have a real good turnout," said Dick Kari, owner of the Powerhouse Bar in Proctor.

The Powerhouse averages about 80 patrons in the bar and plans for 100 people during Vikings games, but around 130 patrons showed up to watch the Vikings game last Sunday. A lot of the "regulars" are at the bar during the games, but there have been some new faces too, he said.

"This year has been great because they're winning so people are coming out," Kari said. He concluded, "Hopefully, we'll have good weather and another 'W.' "

The Other Place Bar and Grill in Rice Lake served food to about 160 people during last Sunday's halftime - about half the people who were there to watch the game, said owner Dan Fulda.

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"We've pretty much had a full house the last five games. We're just expecting the same thing," Fulda said.

Shelly Huffman, owner of the Buffalo House in Duluth, noted on Thursday that snow was in the forecast for Sunday, but she hopes they still get a crowd to watch the game.

"That, of course, will put a damper on things. But hopefully it'll be busy," she said.

Mr. D's Bar and Grill had a large crowd last Sunday and owner Al Terwey hopes for another good turnout this week. "Because everybody's on the bandwagon and hopefully they can keep going," he said.

The Vikings won 29-24 over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, with Minnesota's Stefon Diggs catching a 61-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Case Keenum on the final play. That game made for a lot of emotions in a short period of time at the local bars.

During last Sunday's game, "it was the funnest crowd we've had," Kari said. "But they're excited about the Vikings and so am I. It was a little let down for 24 seconds. Even if they don't make it, it's going to be fun game this Sunday, as long as they play well."

It was a similar reaction at the Buffalo House when the Vikings won last weekend. The crowd there is usually hit-or-miss during the regular football season, but grows during playoff games and most people are Vikings fans, Huffman said.

"Everybody thought (the Vikings) were going to lose at that one point so then we had a pretty good crowd in here and everyone went crazy. It was good they won and hopefully they'll get another one," she said.

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At Mr. D's, "you could hear a pin drop at the end of the game, everybody had their heads down and then all of a sudden, there was an uproar. Then people stayed until midnight because they were so happy," Trewey said.

Most bars and restaurant owners said they'll be providing free halftime food, and food and drink specials, in addition to giving out prizes during the game. At Buffalo House, they're preparing purple jello shots for people to consume whenever the Vikings score a touchdown, while at Mr. D's, Trewey said, "we try to make it festive" with their offerings.

Fulda said they have to ensure they have extra food on hand to be able to provide those specials when there's a full house because of a Vikings game.

"Even though we do the free food at halftime, most of our customers will order food during the first and second quarter anyway," he said.

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