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Lions Club strips for charity calendar

Don't judge this calendar by its cover.

Behind an innocuous photo of the Goodhue Lions Community Building is a collection of photographs that are best described by this year's take on the annual theme: "Very Good, Very Bad & Very Ugly."

For the third consecutive year, the Goodhue Lions have put duty before dignity and taken off their clothes for a good cause.

Club members have stripped and posed, frequently in appropriate outdoor settings such as farm fields and woodpiles, while photographer Sharon Duden of Hay Creek captured the image for posterity.

And each of them paid her $10 as a modeling fee.

The 2009 calendar fulfills the club's pledge to raise money for Campaign Sight First, spokesman Niles Deden said.

Initially, the Lions hoped to raise $5,000 over three years, but the popularity of the calendars greatly exceeded expectations.

The 2007 and 2008 calendars, which sold out, generated roughly $23,000 for the effort to control and eliminate the leading causes of preventable blindness.

With this year's calendar, the club anticipates the project will raise close to $35,000.

The calendars have become instant collectibles, despite the $25 price tag ($35 for an autographed copy). Even the Goodhue County Historical Society has been trying to find a set for its collection, but people are reluctant to part with them.

This year 600 copies were printed, Deden said, and 300 of those were claimed by locals who pre-ordered calendars. The rest are expected to go quickly.

A woman is featured in the calendar for the first time. Cindy Tonsager, the only female Goodhue Lion, posed with her husband, Tom, as the tasteful February image. Goodhue also has a Lioness Club, Deden pointed out.

Tom Tonsager is club treasurer, and his wife helped him out before deciding to join herself. She is pictured in a John Deere apron and a boa, while he is seen "wearing" a cap and a kettle.

"The question is," Deden said: "What's holding up that kettle?"

It has no visible support.

January is devoted to club President Dave Kyllo, an ice fisherman, and March shows Curt Schrimpf working with his tools.

Joe Huneke is the April model, wearing a hardhat, rubber shoes and a "Do Not Enter" sign as he stands on a narrow dirt road.

"We ran a special last year," Duden explained. "Anyone who joined Lions in 2008 could be in the calendar."

Huneke answered the call.

May's model is Bill Robertson reclining in a tanning bed at his flower shop, Leprechaun Hollow, with a bouquet of cattails and flowers strategically placed.

June and July both feature men and their cars. Mike Kohlnhofer is pictured in his customized GTO, while Russ Ehlers expands on the July theme with a flag draped over himself and his blue car. Farm equipment features prominently during growing season. Lyle Amundson and his cat pose in the cab of a tractor on a rainy day, and Kelly Bolin shows off his combine.

Goodhue Fire Chief Mike Kehren poses in fireman's hat, boots and gloves for the October photo, which also features the community's big red truck and an extinguisher. His older brother, Marty, known as Belvidere's fire chief, was in the 2007 calendar.

The calendar typically includes a senior citizen, Deden said. This year, though, the most senior Lion included is John Jaeger, shown hunting for November.

His brother, Dave, is in the calendar Hall of Fame with the chainsaw that was his prop in 2008. The other Hall of Fame image is that of 2008 February model Mike Carlson as Cupid.

Rounding out December is Dominic Frazier, wearing the traditional Santa cap as he warms himself before a blazing outdoor bonfire.

With the calendar's amazing success, the club is considering putting one out next year featuring favorite images from 2007-09.

"We've gone through 38 out of 108 members," Deden said. "Most of the adventurous ones have already been in the calendar. I'm not sure we can find 12 new models next year."

Of course, the special still holds. Join the Goodhue Lions in 2009, and you can probably have your pick of months for 2010.

Calendars can be purchased at Larry & Del's Barbershop in Red Wing, Dressen's Saloon in Hay Creek and the Hay Creek Mutual office in Goodhue.