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Dayton says serving troops high point of Croatia trip

DOMOBRANSKA, Croatia -- Gov. Mark Dayton, on his second day of a visit to Croatia to celebrate a military partnership between Minnesota and the Balkan country, said Friday that the highlight of the trip was his chance to serve steaks to troops.

DOMOBRANSKA, Croatia -- Gov. Mark Dayton, on his second day of a visit to Croatia to celebrate a military partnership between Minnesota and the Balkan country, said Friday that the highlight of the trip was his chance to serve steaks to troops.

Members of  Serving Our Troops, a 12-year-old St. Paul-based organization that provides steak dinners for National Guard members serving overseas and in the United States, joined the Minnesota state and military delegation to provide members of the Guard a meal.

Dayton said some members of the Guard deliberately got into his line at Domobranska Barracks in central Croatia so they could be served by the governor of the state.

“Everybody had a great steak,” Dayton said, although he noted that one Guard member complained that the governor served him a rare steak but he had asked for his meat done medium.

The governor also attended an early Fourth of July celebration with U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Julieta Valls Noyes, where the theme was “State Fair.” Dayton said that the theme was well-executed but that the fair paled in comparison with Minnesota’s annual celebration.

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Dayton attended a Friday-morning ribbon cutting at an elementary school, which Minnesota Guard members helped refurbish.

The relationship between Croatia and the Minnesota National Guard is one of 70 state partnership programs within various states’ National Guard contingents.

“It’s Minnesota,” Dayton said, “but it’s very much an outreach by the U.S. government as well as Minnesota.”

Dayton planned to meet with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovi, who visited Minnesota this year, on Saturday.

The governor will return to Minnesota in time to be the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade in Delano.

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