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Calling All Women: Town Has Bumper Crop of Bachelors

July 20, 1994

HERMAN, Minn. (AP) _ Betty Harrigill doesn’t harbor illusions of bagging a bachelor during a short visit to the Minnesota prairie - but it can’t hurt to look.

And Herman, population 474, is expecting plenty of women to start looking today at the Grant County Fair.

The town 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis is showcasing itself as a good place for female entrepreneurs - partly because of its bumper crop of bachelor farmers and agribusinessmen.

Herman has 78 single men between 20 to 50, and only about 10 eligible women in the same age range.

Women from every state and several countries have asked for information since the town’s advertisement in a weekly paper got noticed by television talk shows. Nobody knows how many will make the trek here this week.

Some, like Ms. Harrigill, are coming on a lark.

″I’m just really going for the vacation, to get away,″ said Ms. Harrigill, a 40ish bookkeeper and divorced mother of two from the Fort Worth, Texas suburb of Hurst. ″How can you build a relationship in two days, unless there’s a miracle?″

Town leaders decided to take action after all 20 girls in the high school’s class of 1995 said they would have to leave town to find jobs.

″We didn’t from the beginning promote this as a dating service or matchmaking service,″ said Herman’s housing director, Skip DeLong. ″We’re trying to create career opportunities for women.″

The town could use a lawyer, an accountant, a construction contractor, a computer technician and a plumber, among other occupations. Officials say there’s loan money available, and office space in the former hardware store.

The fair, which runs through Sunday, usually draws about 2,000 people each day. But Jon Olson, who works for the Herman Development Corp., said the state tourism office said to expect up to 30,000 people a day.

A radio station more than 200 miles away in Hibbing helped some single women get a jump on the competition, bringing in a busload for a street dance last month and planning to return with ″Love Bus II″ this week.

Tina Didreckson arrived in June from Santa Ana, Calif., to consider possibilities for her fuel additives and janitorial supply business. She didn’t know about the bachelor surplus.

″They really do have some good-looking guys here,″ she said. ″I’m 33, most of them are younger, but I’ll keep an eye out.″

Organizers are trying to make it easy this week for the shy types. No ″Dating Game″ or ″Studs″ shows are planned, just genteel mixers including an ice cream social and a taffy pull.

But some bachelors are acting like Herman’s hermits, raising fears that courting in the spotlight is the last thing they’ll want to do.

″Some of the ones who are shy are saying, ’In a pig’s eye. I’m locking myself out on the farm,‴ said Rebecca Helgesen, a state tourism spokeswoman.

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