Imagine a radio show that is all about odd and funny stuff which happens in a small town in Minnesota. The radio show features folk songs, old-fashioned “live” advertisements, and stories about casseroles and good neighbors.
Does this sound like the recipe for a popular, award-winning, public radio show? If you thought probably not, you’d be wrong. A Prairie Home Companion has been on the air for many years and made the writer who created it famous. That writer is Garrison Keillor.
Keillor was born in a smallish town in Minnesota. He used his life experiences and observations to create a radio show about a fictional place called Lake Wobegon, where residents embody all the quirky, sweet, exasperating, and unique aspects of being Minnesotan. Listeners across the US and even other countries loved the show so much that they bought his Lake Wobegon books in droves. In addition to his books about Lake Wobegon, Keillor has written a book about politics, numerous articles, and even authored a regular advice column online at salon.com.
Live tapings of The Prairie Home Companion occurred at The Fitzgerald Theater, the home of Minnesota Public Radio, in St. Paul. Keillor also owns an independent bookstore nearby called Common Good Books, where you can relax and check out his books along with many others.
Those with more time will want to check out the Lake Wobegon Trail, a 46-mile hike and bike path with numerous trail stations between St. Joseph and Osakis. Look for a place “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average,” to use Keillor’s turn of phrase, and maybe you will have found the real Lake Wobegon!
The Fitzgerald Theater is the fourth stop on Part One of our Minnesota Trail, and Common Good Books is the sixth! Lake Wobegon Trail starts at our eighth stop.
Rebecca Blake Beech