A decade after they opened it, Byron and Loretta Johnson have closed Grandpa Nick’s Petting Farm, about 4 miles southeast of Warrens.

The attraction at 27124 Concord Ave. closed at the end of October, as it usually does for the season, Byron said last week. But he and his wife don’t plan to reopen it for a 12th season next April or May, as they had in the past.

“It’s 50-50” whether the Johnsons might take some of the animals in their petting farm on the road to area events in the future, Johnson said. They haven’t renewed the annual U.S. Department of Agriculture license that they would need to do that.

Attendance was good at the 16 area events that the Johnsons took petting farm critters to this year, he said.

Many factors went into the decision to close the petting farm that they had opened in 2006, Johnson said. A major one was that attendance had declined.

The farm has had about 100 animals, plus more than 100 birds, for visitors to see. “We’re getting rid of some of them,” Johnson said. “And some we’re too attached to, so we’re keeping them.” Some of the farm’s animals have included llamas, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, miniature horses, sheep, goats, donkeys, peacocks and exotic chickens and exotic ducks.

“It’s pretty upsetting,” Johnson said of closing the petting farm. “We’d hoped to keep it open for a long time” and bring farm life to more families.

The Johnsons inherited the farm from Edward “Nick” Danek, who died in 2003. They were inspired to create the petting farm attraction, and named it after him, because Danek had lamented that children aren’t exposed to life on farms.

Maple Grove Venues opened this fall at W4142 County Hwy. B, a mile from West Salem, and is taking bookings for events such as holiday parties, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, corporate meetings, conferences and outdoor events.

“We can do intimate outdoor wedding ceremonies within our beautiful scenic grounds,” said Stefanie Kline, event coordinator for the new venue. She said up to 400 people can be seated in the newly-remodeled, modern facility.

Maple Grove Venues works with many local businesses including catering, floral, rental, wedding planning, hotel and transportation businesses, Kline said. “Clients can select from a preferred list the caterer of their choice, which offers them the ability to create the event on their budget and preference,” she said.

Maple Grove Venues is owned by Antelma Nicolai of La Crosse.

For more information, call the venue at 608-790-1661, or visit its Facebook page or www.maplegrovevenues.com. It will participate in the Wedding World expo in January in La Crosse.

Amber Rubel opened Ophelia’s Green Spa on Wednesday in Suite B at 1800 Jackson St. in the Jackson Plaza shopping center in La Crosse.

Rubel will hold an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at her new business, which offers such services as facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing. She has 14 years of experience in the field, but this is the first time she has owned her own spa.

“It was just time” to own her own spa, Rubel said. She added that Ophelia’s Green Spa is a “green spa” certified through Eminence Organic Skincare’s green spa program. The main goal of a green spa is to reduce its environmental footprint while providing healing, aesthetic and wellness services, Rubel said.

The spa is open from noon to 4 p.m. Mondays for retail product sales. Appointments for services are available from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and the spa is closed Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 608-782-1369 or visit www.opheliasgreenspa.com or the spa’s Facebook page.

The FairBridge Inn and Suites hotel along state Hwy. 44 in Caledonia, Minn., closed Nov. 18 and is for sale.

“There has been a moderate to more-than-moderate amount of interest” in the property from prospective buyers, said John Kronebusch, a real estate agent in the Winona office of Property Brokers of Minnesota. The property, at 508 N. Kruckow Ave., is listed with his agency with an asking price of $900,000.

The hotel, which has 45 guest rooms, opened in 1999 as an AmericInn hotel. It switched to the FairBridge Inn & Suites chain in 2012.

Steve Cahalan can be reached at stevecahalan.reporter@gmail.com or at 608-782-9710, ext. 8819.

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