The Lope: Lake Wobegon in Little Sweden

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lake Wobegon in Little Sweden

Garrison Keillor photo-ops with Ace Jackalope after Keillor's Monday night lecture at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.

I had previously met Keillor at last year's Kansas State Fair when the writer, humorist and radio personality was in Hutchinson to perform his American Public radio show, Prairie Home Companion, as part of the fair entertainment. When he saw Ace, he said "Whatever the joke is, I'm in on it" as he posed for several pictures, including the one above.

Thus, slightly over a year later, I was happy to attend his lecture in Lindsborg a couple nights ago. Here he is on the stage of Bethany's Presser Auditorium. The organ pipes made a majestic backdrop. Lindsborg is called "Little Sweden" due to the large amount of Swedish immigrants who settled there.

I had last been in Presser Auditorium to cover a visit by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Previous to that, I'd done three posts on Lindsborg, detailing Dalalope, the McPherson County Old Mill Museum and the city's festival, Svensk Hyllninfest.

As usual, he wore bright red tennis shoes with his suit.

Although I like Prairie Home Companion, I think I most enjoy Keillor's brief Writers' Almanac segments which air on my local National Public Radio station.

As with most of his appearances, Keillor told stories of his childhood in his mythical Lake Wobegon, MN.

The man is a blast to photograph - very emotive. I'll leave all these - the better pics - up for a day or so, that they may be saved by the folks I met at the lecture who wanted pictures. After that, I'll thin them out a bit.

After the lecture, there was a book signing.

Ace wore a shirt with the logo of Powdermilk Biscuits, the fictional sponsor of Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio show. For a photo-op, Keillor decided to put Ace on his head. Some people do that; I don't know why, but I don't stop them, either.

It worked for a second or so, which is surprising since Ace is a bit top-heavy, what with the antlers, you know.

We had good company while waiting in line. Paul Formo, President of the college, and his wife, Pat told us stories of the previous year's Gorbachev visit. Of course, there was plenty of time for a photo-op.

The Formos chat with Keillor.

Ace seems to be starting a collection of autographed shirts.

I'd like to say a special "thanks, again" to Lucy Johnson, who, along with her late husband Charles, endowed the Johnson Lecture Series, of which Mr. Keillor's appearance was a part. She was seated just a couple rows in front of me and it was my privilege to thank her myself.


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