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Garrison Keillor—Final Live Broadcast in Bemidji

By Kelsey Jacobson

On November 7th, Garrison Keillor’s live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion will be at the Sanford Center. Before the show, there will be a preshow dinner starting at 3 PM. The doors will then open at 4 PM and the show will start at 4:45 PM.

When Keillor was 20 years old, he dreamed about dying young—vivid dreams about people coming to his funeral and talking about how talented he was. However, Keillor never thought that he was talented.

People within the community believed he was because of the poems he wrote while being a person who kept to himself—the odd one that no one knew. While trying to avoid the Vietnam War efforts, Keillor started A Prairie Home Companion. It took him a long time to write and produce due to his lack of perceived talent within himself. Soon he found himself at the age of seventy years old. At that time Keillor, sat down and took time to read his previous work over the years.

APHC-Bemidji-OnlineOnSale-452x300Keillor grew up in the Brooklyn Park Township, where he wrote about loners who stood at a distance from the crowd, who only observed people within their environment. He went to Benson School, a three-room schoolhouse out in the county. While going to school, Keillor turned into a bookworm. During recess, Keillor would read in the library about history—a turning point in his life at age eleven. He didn’t want to impress his peers, instead he became interested in his family history. The summer before starting eighth grade, Keillor found himself writing sports for the Anoka Herald, a local newspaper. At the age of 13, he had his own office that became home and a place he could write his articles.

When Keillor’s parents found out about him writing for the newspaper they were upset, and soon after high school, Keillor found himself leaving home at the age of twenty. Keillor then found himself at the University of Minnesota in 1960, looking to become an English major.

While studying English, Keillor never thought of himself as an artist and even today, Keillor still remembers his journalism professor, Bob Lindsay. While studying English, Keillor decided to get involved in the campus literary magazine, The Ivory Tower. Soon, Keillor’s professor had submitted some of his work to The New Yorker.

In the year of 1966, Keillor spent his time in New York from July up until August where he lived in a boarding-house in a poor Hispanic neighborhood, which at the time offered cheap rent. Keillor described New York as, “a dark swamp where a man could walk deeper and deeper into the muck and disappear and nobody would notice.”

In 1969, Keillor found himself submitting stories to The New Yorker on his own. He later found an editor who read his stories—Roger Angell. Soon later, Keillor found himself moving with his family to a farmhouse near Freeport, Minnesota. At the time he was barely getting by due to his lack of income from writing and trying to support his family.
Keillor often found himself writing on his Underwood typewriter upstairs in his bedroom. This is where he would look at a piece of writing for hours at a time, which didn’t seem to bother him. Overtime, Keillor found himself working at Minnesota Public Radio, where he worked from 6 to 9 a.m., playing records and creating an on-air persona. This is where he invented a town where women were strong, men were handsome, and children were intelligent. This came to be known as Lake Wobegon. A few year later, Will Jones an entertainment columnist from The Minneapolis Tribune, wrote a story about Keillor—thus starting his career in radio.

Since the loss of Keillor’s brother, and now at the age of seventy-three, Keillor has realized how fragile life is. His hero is film director Robert Altman, who produced a movie in St. Paul when he was eighty-one while dealing with cancer. Keillor described this man as an individual who loved his work and put his mortality aside.

“He was a happy man who refused to be seduced into being someone else—even in Hollywood,” Keillor said. “I am grateful for my own work—more than ever, the pleasure of scratching away on paper.”

This will be Keillor’s final tour and one of his last appearances. Keillor will breathe life into some of his fan favorite sketches, such as Guy Noir, Private Eye, The Cowboys, and countless old-time favorites from the audience. Keillor will bring the latest news from Lake Wobegon along with the most dedicated band in public radio, which will have the crowd begging for more.