By all accounts, the evening with Garrison Keillor at the Grand was highly successful—both in terms of funds raised and in the enjoyment by the 196 ticket holders attending the sold-out event.
The $20,000 fundraising goal for the event was met, and Save the Northfield Depot received highly complimentary comments regarding the setting, the music, and (of course) Garrison. One attendee summed the evening as follows:
“. . .it was probably the most memorable event I have been to in Northfield. Enjoying our local musicians was special; enjoying Garrison in what felt like a very intimate and local flavored setting was very special; and watching and participating with them both singing and playing together was over the top. Thank you.”
Prior to Keillor’s taking the stage, a string band led by Martha Larson (on cello) provided a delightful 45 minutes of music from the very talented musicians—including Mark Kreitzer (guitar), Mike Hildebrandt (violin), and Helen Forsythe (banjo). Most members of the band had played together before, but they called themselves “The Train Gang” for this event. The band captivated the audience with songs that fit the Prairie Home Companion aesthetic with some bluegrass, gospel, Americana, and a few train songs that included “Waiting for a Train” by Jimmy Rodgers, which had been requested by Keillor.
Garrison Keillor’s monologue covered a wide range of topics including childhood memories, his girlfriends at Carleton and St. Olaf, reflections on his life and career, and the changes during his lifetime. Garrison periodically broke into song, inviting the audience to join him. The evening’s grand finale was The Train Gang playing as backup for Garrison’s singing. Paul Hager videotaped the entire event for a future broadcast on NTV.
To close the evening, Jeff Johnson of KYMN thanked Garrison, the musicians, and the audience for coming to the fundraiser. He reminded the audience that additional funding, in-kind materials, and labor are still needed for the project. Donations can be made online by using the donate button (please note that a processing fee is subtracted from online donations). Full donations can be made by mailing a check to:
Save the Northfield Depot
712 4th St. E.
Northfield, MN 55057
Save the Northfield Depot is very grateful to Garrison and the string band for donating their time and talents for the event; Garrison also contributed two boxes of his books to benefit the project. When we sent him an e-mail last January explaining our project and asking if he might be available this fall for a benefit, he answered the next day, “Yes, of course, I’d love to.” His response indicates the type of generosity and community spirit found in Northfield in support of this project. Thanks so much to all of you.