Calling all Garrison Keillor Fans….


This isn’t a farm tale, but since the Back-Up Farmer (that’s me) has been SO preoccupied with this lately, this post is showing up here. (And I’m on the road a lot in September being Author Girl, so I don’t have a clue what’s going on here at the farm! :-O )

I’m a member of the Board of Directors of the Zumbrota Area Arts Council (ZAAC) , and last year it became clear that the local movie theater, in operation since 1921, was struggling as a for-profit operation and the owners needed to sell it. ZAAC saw that if we bought the theater, we could turn it into an arts center of sorts, a place to hold concerts and recitals and meetings, as well as movies. And thus began our funding drive. Things moved along slowly, especially since we chose to start raising funds last fall, right at the start of the Great Recession.

Great timing.

The movie theater has a radio history because in the 1950s Ray Sands and the Polka Dots (a local polka band) broadcast a live radio show from the theater. And this year the band celebrates its 60th anniversary. So my head started spinning….radio show…small town…arts organization. What if we asked Garrison Keillor to host a really big fundraiser as part of our efforts to buy the theater?

The poor man had emailed me a few years ago with the blurb he provided for my memoir, and I still had his email address. I’m sure he regrets not mailing the blurb to me in a plain brown envelope with no return address. So I emailed him, told him about our idea for a show, and he agreed to host.

Holy Smokes! What now?

‘Cause it was my idea, I ended up in charge. (This has taught me a VALUABLE lesson.) So in three weeks, Garrison will show up in our little town and follow our script and not follow our script and introduce musical acts and interview Ray Sands about why they turned down an offer to appear on A Prairie Home Companion years ago and then end the show with a sing-a-long. It’s going to be a wildly enthusiastic and unrehearsed show because GK is just going to show up and I’ll hand him a script and say “This is what we were thinking,” and he’ll do what he wants because he knows what he’s doing.

So if you’re in the area, and want to contribute to a great cause (arts organizations in small towns are SO important because we’re too far away from the large cities…kids need arts events, and these events contribute to local economic development…oops. Sorry, I’ll get off that soapbox.)….

Visit www.redshoesandpolkadots.org for more information. Event is October 11. It’s called Red Shoes and Polka Dots because GK wears red shoes, and to honor 60 years of the Polka Dots.

The animals are all still alive, so the Farmer seems to be managing fine without me as I flit from event to event, and from Red Shoes meeting to Red Shoes meeting.

We are taking a short vacation this weekend to the North Shore of Lake Superior, where I’ll do a booksigning, and we’ll unwind by the lake and visit with two readers of this blog, Chicken Mama and Mama Pea. I’m so excited to meet them.

I may not post until after the October 11 event. Will be too busy pacing and worrying and harassing my volunteers to make sure everything goes just right for the Garrison event. I should be more relaxed, since working with Garrison has GOT to be easier than working with sheep…. 🙂

6 thoughts on “

  1. Oh, oh, oh– you get to meet Chicken Mama and Mama Pea?!? In my book, that’s even more exciting than working with Garrison Keillor!

    BTW, I heard he had a minor stroke about a week ago. I hope everything’s okay–especially for the sake of your organizing efforts!

    The Piper and I started a community arts nonprofit organization a few years back, but it’s in sleep mode–has been ever since we had to cover the expenses of a traditional music concert ourselves–roughly a mortgage payment’s worth. It sounds like your organization is on much more solid footing–and, with GK’s help, it should do even better!

  2. GARRISON KEILLOR??!! Holy Cow, how cool is that? (And what a nice guy to give of himself as he does.)

    Quite the undertaking for you, I’m sure, but I just know it will be wildly successful. (What a nice gal to give of yourself as you do.)

    Looking forward to this weekend. Sounds like you need a rest in the woods!

  3. Congratulations! I will be sure to tell my family back home in Red Wing to head down and support your cause! I’m jealous you get to meet Mama Pea, she is a reader of my blog as well and always has helpful, funny and inspiring things to say. Have a good trip to the North Shore.

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