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Finding Minnesota: Restaurant Capital Of The World

DORSET, Minn. (WCCO) -- There's a town up north where the food is filling, politicians do nothing and you can't believe what you read in the local paper. That's just the way they like it.

Dorset, Minnesota (population 22) is in a resort area of Hubbard County, and it calls itself the Restaurant Capital of the World, serving its meals with a side order of humor.

"The Mall of the World is over that way," said publisher Vic Olson, tongue in cheek. "And the Dorset Dome is actually over there."

You can read all about it in the Dorset Daily Bugle -- "published once a year, whether there's news or not." Past editions have featured stories about a light rail coming to town, or the Dorset skyline adding more high-rises.

"I'm sure you saw in The Bugle that we kind of exaggerate a bit on some of our stories," said Kathy Schmidt, owner of La Pasta restaurant.

The townspeople do believe they're justified, though, in calling themselves the Restaurant Capital of the World. In a town of just 22 people, they have four restaurants, which may be the most, per capita, anywhere.

They're now getting ready for "Taste of Dorset," a real event in early August.

"All the restaurants make small portions of food and we sell them out on the boardwalk," said Schmidt.

Taste of Dorset is also when the Restaurant Capital gets a brand new mayor.

The current mayor is Ronnie Barnett, a 17-year-old trumpet player at Park Rapids High School.

When asked how much money was involved in his campaign, Ronnie replied, "A whole dollar."

That's because they pick their mayor at random from those who've dropped a dollar in the local ballot boxes.

"It's very simple, we just collect all the ballots, put them in a box, draw one, and that's the mayor," said Olson.

But how does a teenager handle all the politics?

"Oh, he's done really, really well," Schmidt said. "He's doing just what we like our politicians to do. He hasn't shown up except to eat."

You don't have to live in Dorset -- or even be an adult -- to be mayor.

A 5-year-old boy from Chicago was chosen one year. Another year, a rooster was in the running -- until a hungry black lab put an end to that. It was very tragic.

Taste of Dorset happens next Sunday, Aug. 7.

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