Fat Tuesday served up at Whoopemup

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Whoopemup Hollow Caf will be serving up a feast for Fat Tuesday.

Waitsburg's southern comfort restaurant is planning a special Mardi Gras menu, providing a chance to eat like a king and visit one of Sunset magazine's recently crowned "Ultimate Fantasy Towns" at the same time.

First things first: Owners of the Whoopemup, 120 Main St., are offering a three-course prix fixe menu for $45 per person on Tuesday. Entree options include blackened ahi tuna, cajun-spiced osso bucco and herb-stuffed pork loin.

And if you want to work up an appetite before dinner - or burn a couple of calories afterward - you could stroll around the town that Sunset included in its February listing of the top 20 slower-paced, stress-free dream towns. Criteria considered for the list included populations and home prices, as well as quality of life. "Affordable, beautiful, and friendly - welcome to Dreamville(s)," the piece said.

Waitsburg was described as having "a tiny Main Street backed by golden hills. There's also a growing handful of new businesses, like the Jimgermanbar, a magnet for classic cocktails." The median-single family home was $147,500, and population 1,215. Others that made the cut: Nelson, British Columbia; Vashon Island, Wash.; McMinnville, Ore.; and Ojai, Calif.

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BeneVint turned out to be a more than $10,000 benefit for Camp Fire USA Walla Walla.

After the numbers were crunched on the first-ever BeneVint Wine Auction & Night of Entertainment fundraiser Jan. 28, nearly 100 local businesses and guests helped raise $10,500 for the agency's After School Camp and Super Summer in the Park programs.

The event was hosted by Charles Smith Wines' downtown Walla Walla tasting room, 35 S. Spokane St. Local band Jacob's Weekend performed as guests enjoyed wine, food and silent and live auctions.

Businesses donated wines to be poured and food, and donated items and services auctioned off throughout the evening. Organizers say the event was a success in part thanks to a pool of volunteers who helped bring everything together.

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Farmers and ranchers who suffered agricultural damages from extreme weather conditions in the first seven months of last year could find some relief in store.

Low-interest federal loans are available to help growers and ranchers recover losses from excessive rain, flooding, high winds and freezing temperatures between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2011. Walla Walla, Columbia and Whitman counties are among those that may have been affected by the conditions.

A recently announced Secretary of Agriculture disaster designation triggered the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Emergency Loan Program, said Houston Bruck, Spokane-based FSA Farm Loan manager, in an announcement. FSA will accept loan applications in county offices until Sept. 27.

To qualify, applicants must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere to finance their needs, Bruck said. They must be established farmers who suffered an agricultural loss due to the disaster named in the designation. Farms must be family-sized. Consideration will be given to the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

For more information, visit a county FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov/wa.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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