Tracker Pixel for Entry

​50 years of Hootenannies

by Jack Dura | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Theatre | June 12th, 2014

It’s a summer of celebration at the Fair Hills Resort on Pelican Lake in Minnesota lakes country. The resort’s long-running musical variety show Hootenanny (“The Hoot”) enters its 50th season this month, marking half a century of fun for all.

Family-owned since 1926, the Fair Hills Resort has had singalongs and “community sings” since the 1930s. What started as simple beach bonfires and marshmallow roasts blossomed into an original onstage musical variety show by 1965, with resort owners, staff and guests making music and performing as one.

Larry Swenson, the resort’s director of fun, has been involved with the Hoot for over 40 years with 28 of those years as director under his belt. He has contributed numerous songs of his own styling to the program and even choreographed a few routines (including the renowned “Pelican Lake” number).

With a new repertoire for the Hoot every year, keeping the program fresh is paramount. While a few audience favorites have stuck with the show through the years, new numbers are added annually, and Swenson’s imagination is inspired year-round.

“All year long, I listen to public radio or listen to stations,” he said. “When I hear something, I write it down, even if I’m driving, I go ‘Oh, there’s a song!’ so I have a whole pile of ideas.”

Numbers in the Hoot have included everything from barbershop quartets to the resort’s singable telephone number to Handel’s four-part “Hallelujah Chorus” to a lake jump finale. Every instrument from kazoo to ukulele, mandolin to guitar, flute to French horn has been utilized in this show and audiences are enthralled every time. The people performing this merriment are mostly comprised of the resort’s staff, and an enormous array of Earth’s citizens has appeared onstage in the Hoots across the years.

“Every year we have new staff and we have a few old ones that come back but we’ve had about between 2,800 and 2,900 staff from all over the world have been on the show,” Swenson said.

Around 50 or 60 resort staff members make up the show, and this year, 13 countries are represented in the ranks. The biggest challenge is that many of the staff have never performed onstage before, so getting them acquainted and acclimated to the stage is crucial.

“Most of the internationals have never performed onstage before so we sort of turn them into performers by the end of the summer,” Swenson explained. “They also perform and it’s quite impressive.”

For this summer, Swenson is inviting back some of the many alumni that have appeared in the Hoots. Those with memorable acts or who helped get the show off to a start in the ‘60s have been asked to return for this special season.

“There’s one lady … who does this ‘Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’ that has people laughing so much that they’re on the floor,” Swenson said. “n all our summer shows we won’t necessarily have somebody every week but we’re calling back a few of the alumni to come and do a special, special number with us.”

It’s remarkable to note that along with this 50-year milestone, the Fair Hills Hootenanny is (to the best of the staff’s research) the longest running musical show in the Midwest and quite possibly the country. Swenson says their biggest competition is the Oberammergau Passion Play, performed annually in Oberammergau, Bavaria since 1634. For half a century on the same lake, however, the Fair Hills Hootenannies aren’t doing too bad.

Two-thousand people see the shows each summer, and from here on out, new skits, songs and seasons are on the horizon for the next 50 years in this show’s history. For this summer, the Hoot has some specialties planned but it all comes down to what the show does best: having fun.

IF YOU GO

Fair Hills Hootenanny

Fair Hills Resort, 24270 County Highway 20, Detroit Lakes

Every Tuesday from June 17 to August 19 at 8 p.m.

218-847-7638 

Recently in:

After nearly two and a half years since the people of North Dakota voted to pass the Compassionate Care Act into law in the state, medical marijuana is finally available to patients. Only one dispensary is open right now, but seven…

It was an, “aha,” moment, said Jeremy Jensen. A woman had her vehicle towed into the Fix It Forward Auto Care shop in Moorhead. Jensen and fellow Fix It Forward Auto Care co-founder Matt Carlson had the vehicle on a hoist…

Thursday, April 18, 5-9 p.m.Drekker Brewing Company, 1666 1st Ave N, FargoThe folks at Drekker have partnered with a handful of area artists and the Lend A Hand Up program. A program providing help and hope to families facing…

In 2016, the Rand Corportation’s National Defense Research Institute published a year-long study looking at potential consequences for transgender members to serve within the U.S Military. This study looked at seven different…

The Nordic ModelDr. Thea Hunter, a graduate of Columbia University and an adjunct professor of history at a number of elite colleges and universities, recently died at age 63 of extreme capitalism—and asthma—because of lack of…

Cocktail Showdown

​Yo ho ho!

by Sabrina Hornung

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

After three years Jon Beyer aka “Jonny B” has become the face and the beard behind Jonny B’s Brickhouse in Jamestown North Dakota. Besides the largest selection of craft beers between here and Bismarck, wood-fired pizzas and…

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comFYB. Three letters, three words, well known by the guys who make up Cascades, and anyone who is a fan of the five-man band. When asked what genre best describes their sound, I was bombarded with at…

Harmony Korine keeps a tight grip on his title as one of the most critic/critique-proof filmmakers of recent times with “The Beach Bum,” a sultry companion piece to 2012’s memorable “Spring Breakers.” Not without its own…

Arts

​Hold your head high

by Sabrina Hornung

“I started to look around at state arts council positions because I felt that even though I had never done that, I felt like it would be a really good blend of skills, so I started to look around in 2016. A few jobs came up but I…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

It seems like the threats to North Dakota’s Badlands never cease. Let’s go back and revisit Wylie Bice. He’s the rogue, rich, rancher up in Dunn County, on the eastern edge of the Badlands, who’s built himself a private…