Regional artists salute the Grand Old Opry

WORTHINGTON -- The Friends of the Auditorium have presented a fundraiser show each spring for 10 years, and this year the show is going country once again, with a "Salute to the Grand Old Opry."...

WORTHINGTON -- The Friends of the Auditorium have presented a fundraiser show each spring for 10 years, and this year the show is going country once again, with a "Salute to the Grand Old Opry."

The production is a collaboration of people from around the area - Fulda, Lismore, Bigelow, Worthington and Sibley, Iowa, just to name a few.

"The Auditorium is supposed to be a community building," said manager Margaret Vosburgh. "To see people from so many places coming together to support the Auditorium and what it stands for is exciting."

Vosburgh said "Salute to the Grand Old Opry" gives citizens a chance to become the artists, and also brings their families and friends into town for the show.

"It's a win-win situation," she added. "The people coming to Worthington are buying gas, meals and maybe shopping. It puts the Auditorium in the position to bring economic development into town."


There are more than 35 people involved in this year's production, including musician Bill Shoup of Brandon, S.D.

"The band is exceptional," Vosburgh said. "Bill is an exceptional musician and exciting to work with because he's so talented. They are a tight little band."

The members of the band have never played together before they started rehearsals for this show. Harold VanDer Sloot is from Sibley, and Paul Larson and Ken Clark are both from Worthington.

"We learned a lot of music in a short time," Shoup joked. "None of them read music, but they sure know how to play. And they are a fun bunch of guys."

The members of the show volunteer their time and talents, a combination that can be quite a commitment, according to Vosburgh.

"For this large of a group to make that kind of commitment says a lot about their commitment to the arts," she said.

The band has been rehearsing for six weeks - four hours a night twice a week.

"I feel this is one of the best prepared shows I've ever done," Shoup said.


"I'm really comfortable with it," Clark added. "More so than some other shows I've done. I love being with these guys."

The band members all agree there are not too many places where a hobby musician can go to play.

"There used to be a lot of places, but they just aren't around anymore," VanDer Sloot said.

"I'm sure we'll all have a little lost feeling at first when this is over," Larson said.

Although the time commitment has been big, the band members said they would be looking forward to playing next year.

Director Teresa Dickey of Worthington believes they have some of the best talent from the area in the show.

"It has become a regional show," she said. "It has really gone past being local."

She said it has been a treat to work with the talented artists, and that they have all brought their own ideas to the show.


"We have several new talents as well as some of our veterans," she added.

One of the new talents is Eldon Larson of Fulda.

"I like music, and I want to give something back," Eldon said. "I saw a country show here two years ago, and it was awesome."

Eldon will be singing "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Kaw-Liga."

Eleven-year-old Kirsten Brenden of Worthington is part of a dance group who will be performing.

"There's about 10 of us," she said. "We're dancing to 'Devil Went Down to Georgia.'"

Brenden does ballet, tap jazz and modern dancing, but for this show, the group will be performing a tap routine.

Other performances include a Loretta Lynn tribute vocalist, country line dancers and more. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. All funds raised will go toward supporting the auditorium.


"Memorial Auditorium is a wonderful venue," Larson said. "We're very blessed to have it."

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