MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota businessman in southern France for a major wine auction spoke with NewsRadio 830 WCCO Saturday morning about the Paris terror attacks.

“It is touching to be here,” Haskell’s Chairman and CEO Jack Farrell said. “It’s like being at home on 9/11.”

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Farrell, co-host of “Haskell’s Wine Chat” on NewsRadio 830 WCCO, says officials are beefing up security at the event in Beaune, which is about five hours away from where the attacks occurred. The town is located in what many call the Burgundy wine region of France.

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He says the town’s distance to Paris is similar to the distance between Bemidji and the Twin Cities.

“Believe me, when you talk to the people you’re seeing on the street, and they hug everyone and they hug you, it’s like you’re all part of it, it’s like an attack on everybody,” Farrell said. “I come here to ply my trade and talk about vintages and everything. When something like this happens, it almost seems so insignificant by comparison.”

Farrell had left a restaurant last night when he first heard about the attacks. He said people at his hotel, including the manager and staff members, were crying when news of the mounting death toll started coming in.

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The attacks affected activities surrounding the wine auction, which Farrell has attended for several years.

“Ordinarily, you wake up in the morning, you hear the bands playing. There hasn’t been one band playing, nobody’s marching in the street in costume and joyousness,” he said. “It’s really rocked and affected all of France.”

Farrell spoke with the mayor of Beaune about the auction, and what happens now.

“I said, ‘If you don’t continue the auction, they win,'” Farrell said. “I think you have to move on with life and make things better. Otherwise, they win if you cancel everything.”

Farrell says his travel plans back to Minnesota should not be affected because all airports in France remain open.

“But security is beefed up everywhere,” he said. “There’s army in the streets, police are very evident, soldiers are around, we’re on high alert. It’s probably the safest time in the world to be in France.”

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