'Prairie Home' fans fill tiny Minn. town

July 5, 2009 at 6:17 PM
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AVON, Minn., July 5 (UPI) -- Residents of Avon, Minn., say they welcomed the chance to be the host town for the 35th anniversary show of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion."

The town of 1,200 drew 10,000 people from around the country Saturday for a free Fourth of July broadcast of the beloved public radio variety show, which was beamed to an estimated 4 million listeners, The St. Cloud (Minn.) Times reported Sunday.

"It was a nice acknowledgment of the history of the show and the area," Alan Artner, a longtime "Prairie" listener from St. Cloud who attended the live broadcast, told the Times. "It's nice for everybody to hear about the area around the country."

Keillor staged the show in Avon's Lake Wobegon Park, named after the fictional town at the center of his show's enduring cast of Minnesota characters.

Observers said Avon overflowed with street performers, food vendors and art sellers.

The newspaper said the entertainer dreamed up "Prairie Home" while working at a public radio station at nearby St. John's University in the early 1970s and borrowed heavily from its rural Minnesota character to inspire the show's cast of small-town citizens.

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